Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 23–40 | Cite as

The Colonizing Realities of Neoliberal Capitalism

  • Ryan LaMothe


This article addresses the proliferation of neoliberal capitalism in the United States as a dominant social imaginary that has colonized the psyches of many U.S. citizens. The notion of “colonization” is used as a heuristic device in combination with a pastoral interpretive lens to depict and understand the psychosocial dynamics resulting from the hegemonic realities of neoliberal capitalism. More particularly, it is argued that neoliberal capitalism, as the dominant social imaginary, (1) undermines and corrupts Christian (and humanist) myths, narratives, and rituals that maintain and enrich social and communal life, shared relational faith, and interpersonal care; (2) establishes a superior-inferior value system, rooted in the commodification of everyday life, that introduces an ontological falsehood in individuals’ psyches and relationships; (3) leads to a corresponding internalization of foreignness; and (4) narrows the public and political space of appearances.


Neoliberal capitalism Christianity Social imaginary Colonization Subjugation 


  1. Archibald, R. (2010). Arizona enacts stringent law on immigration. New York Times, 23 April. Accessed 7 July 2011.
  2. Arendt, H. (1958). The human condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bell, D. (1996). The cultural contradictions of capitalism. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  4. Boorstin, D. (1987). The image: a guide to pseudo-events in America. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  5. Bowlby, J. (1988). A secure base: parent–child attachment and healthy human development. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  6. Buber, M. (1958). I and thou. New York: Scribner.Google Scholar
  7. Carrette, J., & King, R. (2005). Selling spirituality: the silent takeover of religion. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Couldry, N. (2010). Why voice matters: culture and politics after neoliberalism. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  9. Cvetkovich, A. (2012). Depression: a public feeling. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Deleuze, G., & Guittari, F. (1983). Anti-Oedipus: capitalism and schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  11. Dufour, D. (2008). The art of shrinking heads: on the new servitude of the liberated in the age of total capitalism. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  12. Dugan, L. (2003). The twilight of equality: neoliberalism, cultural politics, and the attack on democracy. Boston: Beacon.Google Scholar
  13. Duménil, G., & Lévy, D. (2011). The crisis of neoliberalism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Ehrenreich, B. (2011). On turning poverty into an American crime. Truthout, 9 August. Accessed 29 Oct. 2013.
  15. Fanon, F. (1963). The wretched of the earth. New York: Grove.Google Scholar
  16. Fanon, F. (2008). Black skin, white masks. New York: Grove (Original work published 1952).Google Scholar
  17. Gasparino, C. (2012). Bought and paid for: the hidden relationship between Wall Street and Washington. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  18. Gergen, K. (1994). Realities and relationships. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Ghent, E. (1990). Masochism, submission, surrender. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 26, 108–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Giroux, H. (2012). Disposable youth: racialized memories and the culture of cruelty. London: Routledge Press.Google Scholar
  21. Go, J. (2012). Patterns of empire: the British and American empires, 1688 to present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Harvey, D. (2005). A brief history of neoliberalism. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Harvey, D. (2010). The enigma of capital and the crisis of capitalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Hedges, C., & Sacco, J. (2012). Days of destruction, days of revolt. New York: Nations Books.Google Scholar
  25. Hendricks, O. (2011). The universe bends toward justice. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis.Google Scholar
  26. Hooks, B. (2000). Where we stand: class matters. New York: Routledge Press.Google Scholar
  27. Karlin, M. (2013). Banishing the poor, unemployed and working class from the mainstream media implies they are worthless. Truthout, 17 June. Accessed 12 Oct. 2013.
  28. Kinzer, S. (2006). Overthrow: America’s century of regime change from Hawaii to Iraq. New York: Times Books.Google Scholar
  29. Klein, N. (2007). Shock doctrine: The rise of disaster capitalism. New York: Henry Holt and Company.Google Scholar
  30. Levinas, E. (1981). Otherwise than being. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Longenecker, B., & Liebengood, K. (Eds.). (2009). Engaging economics: New Testament scenarios and early Christian reception. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  32. Lyotard, J. F. (1999). The postmodern condition: a report on knowledge. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press.Google Scholar
  33. MacDonald, J. (2010). Thieves in the temple: The Christian church and the selling of the American soul. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  34. Macmurray, J. (1991a). The self as agent. London: Humanities Press International (Original work published 1957).Google Scholar
  35. Macmurray, J. (1991b). Person in relation. London: Humanities Press International (Original work published 1961).Google Scholar
  36. Mander, J. (2012). The capitalism papers: fatal flaws in an obsolete system. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint Press.Google Scholar
  37. Mann, G. (2013). Disassembly required: a field guide to actually existing capitalism. Edinburgh: AK Press.Google Scholar
  38. Nandy, A. (1983). The intimate enemy: Loss and recovery of self under colonialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Nelson, R. (2001). Economics as religion. University Park: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  40. Niebuhr, H. R. (1951). Christ and culture. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  41. Niebuhr, H. R. (1989). Faith on earth. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Oliver, K. (2004). Colonization of psychic space. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press.Google Scholar
  43. Preston, J. (2011). In Alabama, A harsh bill for residents here illegally. New York Times, June 3. Accessed 7 July 2012.
  44. Reiger, J. (2009). No rising tide: theology, economics, and the future. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.Google Scholar
  45. Sandel, M. (2012). What money can’t buy: the moral limits of markets. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
  46. Stiglitz, J. (2012). The price of inequality. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  47. Sung, J. (2007). Desire, market, and religion. London: SCM Press.Google Scholar
  48. Taylor, C. (2007). Modern social imaginary. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Todorov, T. (1999). The conquest of America: the question of the other. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.Google Scholar
  50. Weber, M. (1992). The protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. London: Routledge Press.Google Scholar
  51. Welch, S. (2004). After empire: the art and ethos of enduring peace. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.Google Scholar
  52. Winnicott, D. (1971). Playing and reality. London: Routledge Press.Google Scholar
  53. Wolff, R., & Resnick, S. (2012). Contending economic theories. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  54. Wolin, S. (2008). Democracy incorporated. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Zinn, H. (2005). A people’s history of the United States. New York: Harper Perennial.Google Scholar
  56. Zizioulas, J. (2006). Communion as otherness. New York: T&T Clark.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of TheologySt. MeinradUSA

Personalised recommendations