How Neoliberalism Has Shaped the Pursuit of Knowledge

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In his highly influential book Capitalism Realism: Is There No Alternative? (2009), the late Mark Fisher expounded the concept of ‘ capitalism realism’, which refers to “the widespread sense that not only is capitalism the only viable political and economic system, but also that it is now impossible even to imagine a coherent alternative to it.” He further details the widespread effects of neoliberalism on many disparate realms in contemporary society, including mental health, work, education, and popular culture. Alongside Fisher, other critical theorists have proposed ways in which capitalist ideology has seeped into areas of life that lie outside markets and business transactions. This would include the Israeli sociologist Eva Illouz who famously coined the phrase ‘emotional capitalism’, which stands for the way in which our emotions and the economy are in a reciprocal relationship with each other. Economic relationships are emotional and emotional relationships are economic. In terms of the latter, our close human connections model the spirit of capitalism.

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Originally published at on February 24, 2020.

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