Neoliberalism and Disability: The Possibilities and Limitations of a Foucauldian Critique
This article reflects back on the period since the publication of the first edition of Foucault and the Government of Disability, and argues that the intervening years have seen the increasing advance of neoliberal politics impacting the lives of disabled people. Beginning from an overview of Foucault’s 1978-9 lectures on neoliberalism, it seeks to demonstrate that a range of policy developments affecting disabled people can be read against the background of Foucault’s analyses of neoliberal rationalities and practices of government. The impacts of these developments have been economically harsh for many, and the article moves on to consider the potential for effective critique of these issues starting from a Foucauldian analytics. It argues that whilst useful in unsettling taken-for-granted assumptions about subjectivity and autonomy given by neoliberal governmental rationalities, Foucault’s works do not suggest in and of themselves a form of critique capable of mounting an effective challenge to the neoliberal consensus. It ends with a challenge to Foucault-inspired social scientists to ally the valuable insights available from Foucauldian analyses to a critical perspective also able to diagnose and respond to problems of economic marginalization, the concentration of wealth and the marketization of the social.
Citation : Yates, S. (2015) Neoliberalism and Disability: The Possibilities and Limitations of a Foucauldian Critique. Foucault Studies, 19, pp. 84-107
Research Institute : Institute of Health, Health Policy and Social Care
Peer Reviewed : Yes