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The amazing bounce-backable woman: resilience and the psychological turn in neoliberalism

Gill, Rosalind and Orgad, Shani (2018) The amazing bounce-backable woman: resilience and the psychological turn in neoliberalism. Sociological Research Online, 23 (2). ISSN 1360-7804

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Identification Number: 10.1177/1360780418769673


This paper examines the growing prominence accorded to the idea of ‘resilience’ as a regulatory ideal, locating it in the context of a ‘turn to character’ in contemporary culture which we see as part of a wider psychological turn within neoliberalism. Building from discussions of ‘resilience’ as a quality demanded and promoted by public policy in the context of austerity and worsening inequality, we argue that resilience has also emerged as a central term in popular culture in genres such as self-help literature, lifestyle magazines and reality television as well as in a burgeoning social media culture focussed on positive thinking, affirmations and gratitude. It calls on people to be adaptable and positive, bouncing back from adversity and embracing a mindset in which negative experiences can – and must - be reframed in upbeat terms. The paper examines three case studies – women’s magazines, self-help books, and smartphone apps – to explore how resilience is constituted, how it operates and how it materialises across different sites. We extend existing work by highlighting the classed and gendered dimensions of injunctions to resilience, pointing to the ways that middle class women are hailed as emblematic ‘bounce-backable’ subjects. We explore how notions of elasticity, inspiration and affirmation are deployed in ways that systematically outlaw critique or any need for social transformation, while inciting a vast range of physical, social and, above all, psychological labours on the part of ‘resilient’ subjects.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 The Authors
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2018 14:14
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 01:24

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