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Gender, Entrepreneurial Subjectivity, and Pathologies of Personal Finance


This essay examines the constitution of gendered norms for personal financial attitudes and behaviors through the production and circulation of knowledge, especially statistical articulation of populations, across the domains of popular culture, marketing research, and legitimate social science. It thus addresses a nexus of two central features of neoliberalism: governmentality and financialization. It argues that gendered norms play a key role in articulating neoliberal norms more broadly. Specifically, negative, pathologized, portrayals of women as impulsive shopaholics on one hand and paralyzed non-investors on the other indicate the boundaries of responsible entrepreneurial subjectivity. At the same time, these portrayals, found across a range of discursive sites, proffer images of proper femininity and masculinity, to be achieved through the enactment of different configurations of financial attitudes and behaviors. Noting the diversity and internal contradictions implicit in responsible entrepreneurial subjectivity (really, subjectivities), the essay concludes with a consideration of the implications of the current financial crisis and concomitant shifts in the evaluation of gendered behaviors.

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