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Language and gender in an age of neoliberalism

Issue: Vol 1 No. 1 (2007) Gender & Language 1.1

Journal: Gender and Language

Subject Areas: Gender Studies Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/genl.2007.1.1.79


We live at a time when neoliberalism – market fundamentalism – appears to organize not only global and national political-economies but also ‘non-economic’ spheres,
including one’s personal sense of identity, interests, happiness, hopes, and even the subjective value of life and self. And this article examines the significance of neoliberalism for the critical study of language and gender. Central to my discussion is the concept of neoliberal governmentality, a distinctive mode of power, which both constitutes the free subject and shapes the way a free subject acts upon her freedom and works and desires herself into a responsibilized individual. I analyze a case of workplace gender equity programs in a Tokyo corporate office in the early 1990s. I demonstrate how this problematization of a particular modality of linguistic practice was linked to the
active ethical and aesthetic relationship to the self, and how this relationship among gender and language mediated by neoliberal governmentality worked as a concrete
technique of self-making.

Author: Miyako Inoue

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