This paper aims at bringing a contribution to the current debate on neoliberal subjectivities and precariousness by investigating the case of young precarious women in the performing arts’ sector. Scholars in the Foucauldian tradition have analysed how neoliberalism transforms subjectivities into an “entrepreneurial subject” devoted to grow its personal and competitive human capital (Foucault, 2008). Nowadays, the ways workers’ subjectivities are constructed are significantly affected by the current process of precarisation, which is not just about work, but about the life of subjects themselves (Butler, 2006).
Building on these theoretical frameworks, this paper focuses on the construction of neoliberal subjectivities in the Italian’s performing art sector. The findings are drawn on a series of in-depth interviews with performers aged under 35, working in Milan between 2018 and 2019.
The analysis contributes to the current debate, firstly by exploring the performing arts’ sector, characterised by a high degree of informality in the job market’s access, and by narratives that explicitly emphasize self-realisation and competition (Menger, 2014). Secondly because it focuses on young women, who have recently been considered as neoliberal subjects par excellence (Gill, Scharff, 2011).
In the discussion, particular attention is given to the forms of resistance to both precariousness and the dominant neoliberal model based on self-entrepreneurship and competitiveness.
Butler, J. (2006). Precarious life: the powers of mourning and violence. London; New York: Verso.
Foucault, M. (2008). The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France 1978–1979. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Gill, R., Scharff, C. (Eds.) (2011). New femininities: postfeminism, neoliberalism, and subjectivity. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Menger, P.M. (2014). The economics of creativity: art and achievement under uncertainty. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.