Neoliberalism, the Family, and Bourgeois Domesticity I

Neoliberalism, the Family, and Bourgeois Domesticity I
10 December 2021, 3.00pm - 4.00pm

Precarious Homes – Narratives and Practices of Home-Making in Turbulent Times

This event series takes its cue from the CCWW Conference "'Where are you from?' to 'Where shall we go together?' Re-imagining Home and Belonging in 21st-Century Women's Writing", hosted at the IMLR in September 2020. Dedicated to further exploration of literary and theoretical conceptualisations of home-making, the series considers women’s writing in context, using various formats -  reading groups, a symposium, and an author/translator conversation.

Programme of events (pdf)

Neoliberalism, the Family, and Bourgeois Domesticity I

Seminar/Reading Group 

Friday 10 December 2021, 15:00-16:00 GMT (Online) 

Organiser: Stephanie Ng (Cambridge)

Amidst the mounting precarity of contemporary life, the family has emerged as not only a privileged site of debt transfer, but also an affective shelter. Why, beginning in the 1970s, did neoconservative policymakers and neoliberal thinkers jointly relegitimize the heteronormative family as a ballast of social and economic order? In what ways does the icon of the happy, healthy nuclear family work to placate the frustrations of contemporary citizen-subjects for whom solid relations of intimacy, home ownership, and financial security constitute but an empty promise? Making home, building a family, adhering to conventional patterns of life is a near-impossible task for many, but how are women uniquely penalized insofar as they both require and are the protections sorely lacking in the neoliberal present? To locate and problematize the attachments that neoliberal citizens – especially women – form with normative notions of success and intimacy, this seminar will bring into dialogue the work of historian Melinda Cooper, affect theorist Lauren Berlant, and Marxist feminist Nancy Fraser. With regards to format, this seminar will begin with a brief introduction of the texts and a few opening observations. The majority of the one-hour period will be dedicated to discussion in the style of a reading group.

Participants are kindly requested to read the following:

Berlant, Lauren. “Cruel Optimism.”  Cruel Optimism. Duke UP, 2011, pp. 23-50.
Cooper, Melinda. “Family Matters.” Interview with Ben Mabie. Viewpoint, 19 March 2018, 
Fraser, Nancy. “Behind Marx’s Hidden Abode.” New Left Review, vol. 86, 2014, pp. 55-72.

The second seminar in this series will take place on 21 January 2022

All are welcome to attend this free online event, starting at 15:00 GMT. You will need to register in advance to receive the online joining link. Please click on the Book Now button below to register


Jenny Stubbs
020 7862 8832