The Limits of Ignorance: Financial Literacy and the Corporate Governmentalization of the 'Business of Life'

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This paper is a work‐in-­progress.The purpose of the paper is programmatic in the sense that it tries to formulate elements of a research agenda revolving around the issue of corporate governmentalization. By this term I intend to indicate ways in which companies seek to construe and mobilize consumer subjectivities whose consuming practices involve the self-­management of the individual along etho-­political goals of good governance. The back-­‐drop of this topic is the investigation of the forms of contemporary social and political transformation, with a focus on the transformative powers of ‘politicized private enterprises’ or the ‘political corporation’. The research question is: How do corporations seek to construe and mobilize responsible citizens by offering products and services, the consumption of which are assumed to transform the individual's self-­relationship along proclaimed ethical and political goals? The research question will be discussed in the context of financial literacy educational initiatives. In the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, increasing the financial literacy of ordinary citizen-­‐consumers has taken a prominent position among regulators and financial institutions alike. The logic seems to be that financially capable individuals will enjoy social and political inclusion as well as an ability to exercise a stronger influence in markets.The paper specifically contributes to our understanding of the governmentalization of the present by addressing how -­ at least in part -­ the corporate spread of financial literacy educational initiatives can be observed as a particular form of power at-­a-­distance. The focus is on the role of private enterprise in governmentalizing the‘business of life’ by establishing and mobilizing specific conceptual forms around which the life skills of the entrepreneurial self involves a responsibilization of the individual citizen-­consumer.
Original languageEnglish
Publication dateApr 2014
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014
EventThe 5th Latin American and European Meeting on Organizational Studies. LAEMOS 2014 - Havanna, Cuba
Duration: 2 Apr 20145 Apr 2014
Conference number: 5


ConferenceThe 5th Latin American and European Meeting on Organizational Studies. LAEMOS 2014
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