Guthman J, DuPuis M, 2006, "Embodying neoliberalism: economy, culture, and the politics of fat" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 24(3) 427 – 448
Download citation data in RIS format
Embodying neoliberalism: economy, culture, and the politics of fat
Julie Guthman, Melanie DuPuis
Received 30 November 2004; in revised form 10 February 2005
Abstract. The purpose of this paper is to recast the politics of obesity in the United States in light of the unsatisfactory nature of the current, popular debates on this problem. The paper begins by taking stock of contemporary discussions about obesity through a review and analysis of the popular and academic literature on the topic. We show how discussions of obesity that rely on unidimensional structural, biological, and political causes are not only simplistic but also do not adequately historicize the present so-called epidemic of US obesity. To answer the questions ‘why now?' and ‘why here?', we argue, requires an ontological rapprochement between the more dialectical approaches to political economy, cultural studies, and political ecology. After laying out this more integrated approach, we apply it by showing how today’s twin phenomena of the discursive war on obesity and the so-called epidemic itself are better understood through the historical lens of neoliberalism, both as a political – cultural economic project and as a form of governmentality. Our argument is that some of the central contradictions of global capitalism are literally embodied. The problem of obesity in its multiple material and discursive senses can then be seen as a partial fix—in some respects, even as a spatial fix—to some of the contradictions of neoliberalism. At the same time, we contend that the neoliberal shift in personhood from citizen to consumer encourages (over)eating at the same time that neoliberal notions of discipline vilify it. Those who can achieve thinness amidst this plenty are imbued with the rationality and self-discipline of perfect subjects, who in some sense contribute to the more generalized sense of deservingness that characterizes US culture today.
Full-text PDF size: 218 Kb
References 93 references, 8 with DOI links ()
Your computer (IP address: 188.8.131.52) has not been recognised as being on a network authorised to view the full text or references of this article. If you are a member of a university library that has a subscription to the journal, please contact your serials librarian (subscriptions information).