We Need to Talk about Family: Essays on Neoliberalism, the Family and Popular Culture

We are the first generation in recent history to not know if our children will have a better life than us. Over the past thirty years, the dream of upward mobility and stable and securely paid employment has dissipated. This collection draws together insights from the disciplines of cultural studies, literary theory, psychoanalysis, psychosocial studies, social policy and sociology, in order to explore the complex and contested status of “the family” under neoliberalism. At one end of the spectrum, the intensification of work and the normalisation of long-hours working culture have undermined the time and energy available for private family life. At the other end, the fantasy of the nuclear family as a potential “haven in a heartless world” is rapidly unravelling, supplanted with a hypercompetitive, neo-traditionalist, mobile, neoliberal family seeking to capitalise on the uneven spread of resources in order to maximise the futures of its own children. As neoliberalism has always been split between socio-economic realities and the expectations of where we “should” be, we are always living with the anxiety of being left behind and the hope that the best is yet to come. The chapters in this collection signal the troubles of the neoliberal family: in particular, the gulf between the practical conditions of family life and the formation of new fantasies. The volume addresses the neoliberal family in a range of contexts: from the domestic, reproductive and bio-political regulation of family life, the representations of the neoliberal family on television and across social media, to the negotiation of family dynamics in maternal memoirs. The work provides a much-needed corrective to the critical emphasis on the macrostructures of the neoliberal world.

Dr Roberta Garrett is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Arts, Humanities and Digital Industries at the University of East London and has published widely on gender representation in film and literature. She is the author of Postmodern Chick-Flicks: The Return of the Woman’s Film (2007) and “(We Need to Talk About) Kevin: The Monstrous Child as Feminist and Anti-American Allegory” in Women's Writing Post 9/11 (2014), among a number of other publications. She is currently writing a monograph on contemporary popular and highbrow fiction and autobiographical work on the family entitled Writing the Modern Family: Neoliberalism and Representation of Parenting in Contemporary Novels and Memoirs.

Tracey Jensen is a Lecturer in Sociology at Lancaster University, UK. Her research centres around the cultural politics of poverty and inequality and the media, cultural and policy production and circulation of “common-sense” ideas that legitimate such divisions. Her work has been published in the journals Subjectivities, Studies in the Maternal, Sociological Research Online, Radical Psychology and Critical Social Policy. She has also contributed chapters about parenting culture, gender and inequalities to a number of edited collections, including Standing Up to Supernanny (2009), Parenting in Global Perspective (2013) and Privilege, Affect and Agency (2013). Her book Parenting the Crisis: The Cultural Politics of Parent-Blame explores the connections between parenting culture, policy and neoliberalism.

Angie Voela is a Senior Lecturer in Psychosocial Studies at the University of East London. Her research interests include gender; feminist and psychoanalytic approaches to identity; space, politics and identity; and myth in contemporary culture. She has recently published articles in the journals European Journal of Women’s Studies, Subjectivity, Somatechnics, and Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society. Her monograph After Oedipus: Psychoanalysis, Philosophy and Myth in Contemporary Culture focuses on the parent-child relationship in modern culture.

""We Need to Talk about Family" is a model of seminal and erudite scholarship. Of special note is the informative introduction by the three editors (The Fantasies are Fraying: Neoliberalism and the Collapse of a Progressive Politics of the Family). While very highly recommended, especially for college and university library Contemporary Cultural Studies collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "We Need to Talk about Family" is also available in a Kindle format."

Midwest Book Review Reviewer's Bookwatch: May 2017

Anneke Meger

Katie Milestone

Margaret Tally

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ISBN: 1-4438-9529-6

ISBN13: 978-1-4438-9529-3

Release Date: 1st September 2016

Pages: 399

Price: £52.99