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Better politics: narratives of indignation and the possibility of a prosocial politics


Jacobs, K, Better politics: narratives of indignation and the possibility of a prosocial politics, Building better societies: promoting social justice in a world falling apart, Policy Press, R Atkinson, L McKenzie and S Winlow (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 27-38. ISBN 9781447332039 (2017) [Research Book Chapter]

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My motivation for writing this chapter is that we require a truthful understanding of politics that admits the complex and at times very contradictory subject positions that we adhere to. For all of us concerned about the modus operandi of politics and the seeming unwillingness of governments to ameliorate widening inequality or mitigate the impact of climate change, there is always a temptation to disengage from contemporary political struggles and instead expend time postulating what a 'post-neoliberal' future might entail.

In an exploration of neoliberalism, the politics of resistance and prosocial forms of engagement, I argue that a useful starting point is to interrogate the subject positions we adopt to understand the contemporary political era. Often these rely on a depiction of an economic and social crisis accentuated by neoliberalism, a sense of moral outrage and the attribution of culpability on to those we consider responsible. While such subject positions might assuage our yearning to feel indignant about what we don't like, they fall short as a starting point for the development of an adequate sociological understanding. Drawing on psychoanalytical literature and other sources, I consider the risks of relying on an abstracted form of neoliberalism and a defensive strategy of resistance as a foundation for the development of more prosocial forms of politics.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:prosocial politics, narratives of indignation, neoliberalism, post-neoliberal futures
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Urban sociology and community studies
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Government and politics
Objective Field:Public services policy advice and analysis
UTAS Author:Jacobs, K (Professor Keith Jacobs)
ID Code:116694
Year Published:2017
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2017-05-17
Last Modified:2018-04-13

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