On Tuesday 11th November Dr Imogen Tyler, Senior Lecturer of Sociology at Lancaster University, presented on ‘The Stigma Doctrine: Social and Political Economies of Inequality in Post-Welfare Britain’. The event was part of the popular Sociology Seminar Series, hosted jointly with the Centre for the Study of Socialist Theory and Movements.
Dr Tyler presented a fascinating paper on the concept of stigma, class struggles and the need to engage in a scholarship of declassification. An audio-recording of the talk and an abstract for the paper are available below. Dr Tyler has also written about these issues on her own blog site, which you can visit here.
Extending work begun in Revolting Subjects: Social Abjection and Resistance in Neoliberal Britain (2013), this paper will outline my new research project on the social and political function of stigma in ‘post-welfare’ Britain. In The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007), Naomi Klein details the ways in which ‘the policy trinity’ of neoliberalism, ‘the elimination of the public sphere, total liberation for corporations and skeletal social spending’ has been enabled through the invention and/or exploitation of crises, be they natural disasters, terrorist attacks or global economic recession. My new project, The Stigma Doctrine, revises Klein’s analysis by researching the claim made by the Loïc Wacquant, and extended in Tom Slater’s recent work on territorial stigma, that neoliberalism is characterised by ‘heightened stigmatization in daily life and public discourse’ (Wacquant, 2010). Focusing on the (re)production of stigma, this project aims to develop an account of the ways in which neoliberal modes of government operate not only by capitalizing upon ‘shocks’ but through the production and mediation of stigma. In this paper I will outline and illustrate aspects of the five aims of this new research project: 1) to develop a new theoretical account of function of stigma in the context of the post-welfare consensus; 2) to examine the inter-play between stigma and growing inequalities (economic, social and cultural); 3) to develop new methodological approaches to the study of stigma; 4) to explore the policy implications of The Stigma Doctrine with policy practitioners, artists and activists; and 5) to deepen public understanding of the social and political role of stigma in generating a post-welfare consensus, and in maintaining and reproducing inequalities.