Loïc Wacquant University of California, Berkeley
Abstract: The anthropology of neoliberalism has become polarized between a hegemonic economic model anchored by variants of market rule and an insurgent approach fueled by derivations of the Foucaultian notion of governmentality. Both conceptions obscure what is “neo” about neoliberalism: the reengineering and redeployment of the state as the core agency that sets the rules and fabricates the subjectivities, social relations, and collective representations suited to realizing markets. Drawing on two decades of field-based inquiries into the structure, experience, and political treatment of urban marginality in advanced society, I propose a via media between these two approaches that construes neoliberalism as an articulation of state, market, and citizenship that harnesses the first to impose the stamp of the second onto the third. Bourdieu‟s concept of bureaucratic field offers a powerful tool for dissecting the revamping of the state as stratification and classification machine driving the neoliberal revolution from above and serves to put forth three theses: (1) neoliberalism is not an economic regime but a political project of state-crafting which puts disciplinary “workfare,” neutralizing “prisonfare” and the trope of individual responsability at the service of commodification; (2) neoliberalism entails a rightward tilting of the space of bureaucratic agencies that define and distribute public goods and spawns a Centaur-state that practices liberalism at the top of the class structure and punitive paternalism at the bottom; (3) the growth and glorification of the penal wing of the state is an integral component of the neoliberal Leviathan, such that the police, courts, and prison need to be brought into the political anthropology of neoliberal rule.