Chapter

An Opulence of Virtue

Andrea Muehlebach

in The Moral Neoliberal

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780226545394
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226545417 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226545417.003.0001
An Opulence of Virtue

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This chapter introduces the concept of neoliberal moral authoritarianism, though of a very particular kind, which comes in the form of a highly moralized kind of citizenship that has emerged in the northern Italian region of Lombardy. The Italian state has in the last three decades sought to mobilize parts of the population into a new voluntary labor regime—one which has allowed the state to conflate voluntary labor with good citizenship, and unwaged work with gifting. Many of those invested in the creation of this voluntary labor regime think of it as a sphere located outside of the realm of market exchange. This book aims to treat markets and morals as indissolubly linked and to propose that the contemporary neoliberal order works to produce more than rational, utilitarian, instrumentalist subjects. On the other hand, it shows that some forms of neoliberalization may simultaneously posit an affective, that is to say a compassionate and empathetic, self as the corollary center of their social and moral universe. Such attention to the moral neoliberal portrays neoliberalism as a form that contains practices and forces that appear as oppositional and yet get folded into a single order.

Keywords: neoliberalism; moral authoritarianism; citizenship; labor regime; market exchange; northern Italy

Chapter.  12392 words. 

Subjects: Population and Demography

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