Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

When in Doubt Laugh: The Depoliticized Girl as the Perfect Neoliberal Citizen

Gendering in Research Network: Talk by Natalie H. Coulter, York University, Toronto, Canada

2019.03.06 | Anne-Mette Pedersen

Date Fri 05 Apr
Time 11:00 13:00
Location IMC Meeting Room, Jens Chr. Skous Vej 4, Building 1483-312



Advertisements of girls, portray girls in a state of the ecstasy of fun, mouths wide open in huge laughs, eyes bright with pleasure.  Focusing on tween girl retailer, Justice as a research site, I argue girls are expected to be constantly in a hyper state of funness.  Fun functions as a form of affective labour that depoliticizes the acts of consumption and legitimates neoliberalism. Using Sarah Ahmed’s critique of the affective labour of the happy housewife, and also Dan Cook’s work on the fun and childhood, my work theorizes how fun has become an effective/ affective tool in the production of the neoliberal citizen.  Fun acts as a “moral cover” to legitimate advertisers and marketer’s incursion into our lives and reifies the subjective positions of being a consumer (Cook 2009).  Fun functions as a means to depoliticize the act of consumption, fun. Girls and women are often shown the ecstasy of fun and are used as tropes to validate moments as fun. There is a long history of the female subject performing pleasure for the male gaze in a system of patriarchal capitalism. Drawing on a feminist reading of affect theory, this paper will further explore how the labour of fun, is a gendered performance that produces the ideal neoliberal consuming subject; depoliticized and complicit in the workings of capitalism.


About the speaker


Assistant Professor Natalie H. Coulter
Communication Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada