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Affect, Diversity, and the Problem of Consolation in the Critique of Public Servant Identity

  • Francisco Valenzuela
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter seeks to contribute to the project of constructing a more radical, feminist-oriented diversity through the critical study of affect in Public Service. It does so by focusing on the discursive underpinnings of Public Servant identity amidst neoliberal, patriarchal ‘governmentalities’, particularly those which normalize affective labour in the form of a ‘diversified’ responsiveness to citizens-customers. Following recent post-Weberian and Foucauldian readings of Public Servant ethos, affective diversity is interpreted critically as the effect of neoliberal regimes and their commodification of emotions. Consequently, an abstract, ‘dis-affected’ diversity is conceived as the righteous horizon for Public Servant identity work, on the moral grounds of replacing a responsive-but-discriminatory disposition with an indifferent-yet-equalizing one, against the 'misguided' diversity of customer-oriented neoliberalism. Nevertheless, the chapter also reflects critically around such contentions, drawing on what Barnett has called the ‘consolations of neoliberalism’. Here, 'consolation' concerns both the critical researcher-critic's reassurance about her ability to decipher neoliberal regimes, along with actors who resist them, and her under-theorization of the way in which neoliberalism is embodied into a plurality of differences at the concrete, everyday level. I propose that the critique of consolation not only reveals the limitations of certain ‘disembodied’ calls for the study of diversity, often coming from the liberal left and critical management scholarship, but also illuminates the decisive role that the desire of the researcher-critic plays in commiting to a more radical experience of diversity, by propelling a confrontation with her own embodied attachments.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Administration, School of Economics and BusinessUniversity of ChileSantiagoChile

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