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Publication Detail
Neoliberalism, English, and spoiled identity: The case of a high-achieving university graduate in Hong Kong
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Yeung S, Gray J
  • Publisher:
    Cambridge University Press (CUP)
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Language in Society
  • Status:
  • Print ISSN:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    Neoliberalism, governmentality, alienation, stigma, spoiled identity, English learning, English language gaze
  • Notes:
    Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Neoliberalism has permeated every sphere of social life, including education and language learning, seeking to produce a particular kind of subject, homo economicus, with the dispositions required to manage the self as an economic project. This article unravels the workings of the unfulfilled promise of neoliberal English education and its damaging consequences on a high-achieving female university graduate in the context of contemporary Hong Kong. Combining Marxist and Foucauldian perspectives, while simultaneously drawing on Goffman's concepts of stigma and spoiled identity, our analysis is informed by positioning theory and captures the impact of what we have termed the English language gaze on our informant's sense of self. Seen through a Foucauldian lens, the data reveal the extent, but also the limits, of her assimilation of neoliberal governmentality, while the Marxist lens allows us to account for her plight in terms of alienation and the resulting stigma of a spoiled identity.
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