The ‘good life’ and the ‘rich portfolio’: young women, schooling and neoliberal subjectification



Publication Details

O'Flynn, G. & Petersen, E. Bendix. (2007). The ‘good life’ and the ‘rich portfolio’: young women, schooling and neoliberal subjectification. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 28 (4), 459-472.


This paper explores the ways two young women, living in Australia, make sense of themselves, their activities, and futures. The two young women come from two different schooling contexts—a prestigious private school and a government school. We analyse their self-narratives in relation to neoliberal discourse, and consider how, and with what effects, their school contexts privilege and make available neoliberal discourses, and work to produce different subjectivities and notions of ‘worthwhile’ or ‘good’ lives. Conceptualising schools as sites of subjection, we analyse the discourses that their respective schools make available to the young women, and how they have appropriated them. We suggest that the different exposure and access to neoliberal discourses position the women very differently in terms of future possibilities and work-life scenarios in the neoliberal economy. In that way, the article seeks to make a contribution towards understanding schools as implicated in social (re)production and in the (re)production of classed subjectivities.

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