Publication Details

Reveley, J. (2013). Enhancing the educational subject: cognitive capitalism, positive psychology and well-being training in schools. Policy Futures in Education, 11 (5), 538-548.


Positive psychology is influencing educational policy and practice in Britain and North America. This article reveals how this psychological discourse and its offshoot school-based training programs, which stress happiness, self-improvement and well-being, align with an emergent socioeconomic formation: cognitive capitalism. Three key points are made. First, there is an elective affinity between cognitive capitalism and positive psychology, whose advocates promote 'mindfulness','curiosity' and 'psychological flexibility' as the means to personal fulfilment. Second, an array of technologies of the self spring from the positive psychology discourse; mindfulness practice is one of these. Currently being trialled in British and North American schools, this self-technology exhorts children consciously to constitute themselves as curious, creative, self-regulating persons. Third, this discourse and its attendant self-transformative practices promote a reflexive subjectivity that cognitive capitalism actively exploits. Yet it is potentially a resistant subjectivity with the capacity to turn a blowtorch back upon this capitalism.

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