Wendy Brown: Homo Economicus

From The Neoliberal Self: Lectures, Interviews, Art

In this interview with Sam Seder, Wendy Brown, Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, discusses her recent book Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution, in which she assesses the threat to democracy posed by neoliberalism and the transformation of the individual subject into human capital. In an analysis based on Michel Foucault’s concept of “homo economicus,” the “entrepreneur of himself,” Brown argues that the subject of neoliberal finance capitalism functions as a market actor not just in the economic realm—in its financial transactions or in its work—but also in all other domains, including civic, political, family, and religious. In this interview, she discusses the implications of neoliberalism’s market approach to everything from job-seeking to education to online dating. She also offers a novel analysis of the problem of the corporation as person, citing Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (an American constitutional law case concerning corporate campaign financing) as evidence of neoliberalism’s purely economic approach to politics and governance—an approach that, she warns, democracy may not survive.

Wendy Brown is a professor of political science at the University of California Berkeley and author of Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution.

August 25, 2015

Majority Report

Curated by

Kate Steinmann