Woke? Affect, Neoliberalism, Marginalised Identities and Consumer Culture
- new formations: a journal of culture/theory/politics
- Lawrence & Wishart
- Volume 102, 2021
- pp. 10-27
- Additional Information
Reading the current conjuncture is challenging. Alongside the exigencies of the current global pandemic, we live in a moment of resurgence of right-wing nationalism, populism, and a crisis of the left across the West. At the same time, we observe a different kind of political commonsense emerging in consumer culture. From burger chains and oil companies to fast fashion, there is an increasing saturation of ‘feel good’ and ‘positive’ messages of female empowerment, LGBTIQ pride, racial and religious diversity and inclusion, and environmental awareness. In this article, we question how radical politics – especially around gender, race and sexuality – is put to work in current moment as a response to crisis/crises in this context of corporate ‘wokeness’. We analyse the texture of woke capitalism – what it re-articulates and disarticulates – using Stuart Hall’s ideas of conjuncture but contribute an explicitly feminist perspective that notes the extent to which these ideological formations operate affectively. We draw on contemporary feminist work illustrating the affective operation of neoliberalism in the production of everyday life and subjectivity. Going beyond a simple diagnosis of incorporation and recuperation of radical movements, we use the case study of woke capitalism to suggest the production of new affective movements structuring the ongoing obduracy of neoliberalism.