The state, affect, and gender

In order to historiase and contextualise the affective transformation of labour, we need to consider practices and institutions of the state, government, and democracy, and how they have been reshaped. Both the bourgeois liberal state at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century and the welfare state in Western Europe in the second half of the 20th century were established by social forces that institutionalised specific regimes of affect and gender, namely the marginality of feelings and women. Yet, neither the liberal state nor the welfare state - or, as will become evident in the following: the neoliberal state — are uniformly acting institutions with a single logic; they have no intentions, and they are not able to act as coherent agents of a specific social group, be this capitalists or men. The state is rather a relatively autonomous actor that emerges in a contested field of social forces and groups, and there is always the possibility' that new forces will arise within the state that will enable change, or even force it (Brown, 1992; Sauer, 2001: 155f.).

That way the European welfare states of the 20th century modified liberal market relations through social protection and a moderate redistribution of material and cultural resources (Polanyi, 2001: Part Two, II.) in order to integrate the masculine workforce (and later women) into the state qua paid labour. TH. Marshall (1950) characterised this expansion of the liberal project as ‘social citizenship’. The welfare state project relativized the freedom and property rights — ‘civil citizenship", according to Marshall (ibid.) — and emphasised the responsibility of the state for male citizens and — even if only in a limited manner — for female citizens. In the 1960s and 70s wages could thus be successively increased, working times shortened, and social guarantees expanded in tripartite negotiations. In short, the market was regulated in favour of employees. Ultimately, the welfare state partly transferred the care question from the private sphere of the family into the public space of politics.

Hence, we can speak of a partial féminisation of the state, as the welfare state abolished the allegedly ‘natural’ gender boundaries between the public and private realm, turned the private sphere into an area of state regulation, and increasingly integrated women into its institutions. However, the féminisation of the welfare state remained partial because the re-shaping of the androcentric boundaries between the public and private realm happened selectively in accordance with the prevailing gender norms: women were — just like in the labour market - initially only included in (welfare) state regulations as potential

‘helpers’ with social rights derived from the male spouse. The breadwinner-centred welfare state primarily regulated paid labour, tended to leave house- and care work unregulated, and the traditional constellation of the male breadwinner and his economically dependent wife was encouraged. This was also the case in the Fordist welfare states of Germany and Austria after World War II, where a modified version of the paternalistic welfare state model prevailed: a corporatist bargaining over male (i.e. employment-oriented) interests into which women were integrated under masculine auspices.

The male breadwinner model became successively replaced since the 1970s — primarily by social-democratic governments - through social policies centred around the individual. Regularly this individualisation took place via employment. As women increasingly entered the workforce and welfare state policies made it possible for them to (often enough just barely) combine paid labour and housework, they also acquired social rights and benefits on their own, such as pension insurance. Relational work and interactive affective work in the private sphere of the family, however, remained a female domain in those years. Even until the 1990s, the image of the emotional woman functioned as a mechanism to secure patriarchal hegemony in all social fields, in particular regarding paid labour and employment.

In the process of neoliberalisation, states changed with respect to state projects, such as the degree of welfare, the power relations in the field of the state (Haussman and Sauer, 2007), and their bureaucratic apparatuses (see Chapter 4). These changes also include transformations of the democratic struggle for state power, as we will describe below.

At the state level neoliberal restructuring becomes evident in functional changes and new priorities of governance and in the orientation towards competition. In terms of democratic politics, this results in a narrower scope of political debates, action, and decision-making, even for those political actors legitimated through elections. Whereas in Fordism at the centre of political action was a balance of interests between capital and labour, and growing social protection of the labour force — both in the form of welfare state redistribution and rising ‘social property’ of wage labourers, the development since then is characterised by the dismantling of the welfare state and a ‘return of social insecurity’ (Castel, 2009). This goes hand in hand with the disempowerment of the collective actors of the Fordist compromise, in particular the trade unions, but also of the neo-corporatist bargaining system of European welfare regimes. In neoliberalism, promotion of competition replaces the older social responsibilities (Barry, Osborne and Rose, 1996: 11), whereby enterprises and labour are equally put to the test. And rather than full employment and job security, monetary stability, budget deficit, and public debt become the main concerns of political action. Neoliberalism’s triumph, as Maurizio Lazzarato (2012: 87) points out, shows in the shift of the state’s functions, namely from social to monetary state policies.

For Loïc Wacquant (2012: 68) this transformation of statehood accounts for the new situation of neoliberalism. The ‘neoliberal Leviathan' (ibid.: 67) is characterised by a loss of importance and political power vis-à-vis the economy. However, the ‘neoliberal Leviathan’ is not the ‘weak’ or eroded state, which simply follows the imperative of the market or economy (for a critical take on the latter stance see ibid.: 68f.). States do not become functionless, and they are also not simply actors who, relative to the economy, enjoy but a limited scope of action. On the contrary: states possess a specific capacity to adapt to the new global setting, and they possess the will and capacity to direct matters such as economic processes of internationalisation. Neoliberalism indicates therefore not only a loss of nation-state politics due to economic globalisation and privatisation but rather a renunciation of policy-making on the part of nation states or a displacement of political action and rationality. Strong states in particular, like Austria, Germany and Switzerland, become agents — and by no means victims -of neoliberal economic restructuring. Strategies of deregulating labour, of privatising public services, and of the financialization and capitalisation of social fields, are regularly accompanied by regulations of agencies with state power.

The state is not eroding, it is not being destroyed, but the state apparatus rather carries out a ‘change of architectural form’ (Altvater and Mahnkopf, 1996: 116); the state acquires a new construction principle. The often-predicted end of the (nation-)state turns out to be more accurately an adaptation of states to the new economic doctrine: the neoliberal state modifies its state project. As the belief in a happy marriage between welfare state and capitalism vanishes, the Western European states, at different paces and with various consequences, started to break with the post-war order (Jessop, 1994: 68). With the shift from the provisioning state to the ‘postfordist competitive state’ (Hirsch, 2005: 145) and from the Keynesian welfare state to the Schumpeterian workfare state (Jessop, 1994: 55—57), the nation state becomes concerned with the improvement of the conditions for profit maximisation of the local, yet mobile capital — with the rising importance of the so-called Standortat-traktivitiit (local economic attractiveness) — so that local industries can become successful players in international competition (Hirsch, 2005: 103). National politics are supposed to become the lubricant for the global capitalist system, and the state thus shifts its focus towards the regulation of competition instead of Fordist state interventionism. The increasingly global capitalism demands an adequate international political infrastructure and attempts to dispense with its own national framework in much the same way that national capitalism created the adequate form of the nation state in the middle of the 19th century. In order to remain or become internationally competitive, according to the neoliberal narrative, capital must be freed from the fetters of the state. That this cannot be achieved becomes evident through the economic (and several related) crises since 2008.

The neoliberal transformation is not only relevant for those who have work but also for those who, due to the changing labour market, are unable to find paid labour: activation policy’s combination of encouragement and demands (fordern und fordern) coerces jobseekers to undertake every effort to increase their employability (e.g. Serrano Pascual, 2007; Ludwig-Mayerhofer, Behrend and Sondermann, 2009). This readjustment of the welfare state is supplemented by a ‘disciplinary* social policy or, as Wacquant (2012: 72) writes, by ‘corrective workfare’. The shift from welfare to workfare (Peck, 1998) means that integration qua employment becomes the only legitimate mode of existence in Western European states. ‘The essence of this project is to render residual entitlements to nonwage incomes strictly contingent on . . . individual employability in a specific sense’, writes Jamie Peck (2002: 342), and continues: ‘Workfare seeks to maximize rates of employment by eroding benefits packages and activating transitions into work’.

Lazzarato (2012: 94) points out, for instance, that the new social welfare system in France demands managerial skills from jobseekers and the poor, ‘so that they are able to handle the many responsibilities of “assistance” and menial jobs’. And Robert Castel (2011: 216) adds: ‘The generalized appeal to the responsibility of the individual leads to a condemnation of all of those for whom the demands are too high, because they do not even have at their disposal the basic conditions for their independence’.

Hence, the ‘collective agent par excellence’ (ibid.: 18), the caring and protecting Fordist welfare state, characterised by the expansion of social rights and social property, also starts to act business-like: social benefits according to quid pro quo. Wacquant (2012: 74) sketches out the role of the state in this process, of a ‘Centaur state’:

uplifting and ‘liberating’ at the top (of the class structure) ... to leverage the resources and expand the life options of the holders of economic and cultural capital; but it is castigatory and restrictive at the bottom, when it comes to managing the populations destabilised by the deepening of inequality and the diffusion of work insecurity and ethnic anxiety.


Some state administrations receive more power in the new framework of national corporatist negotiation, namely those parts of the state that regulate the global economy. In addition, a reconfiguration of the relationship between the private and public sector takes place, new public-private partnerships emerge in which the state primarily plays the role of a moderator. This new relationship aims ‘to decouple the state from perceptions of previously understood public tasks, hence to “commodify” the latter’ (Brock, 1998: 280f). The neoliberal mantra means deregulation, privatisation, and commodification of state enterprises and services. Thus, traditional tasks of the state, such as telecommunication, postal services or railway transportation, are outsourced and subjected to market mechanisms with the effect that labour processes within these organisations change dramatically, according to the capitalist logic of profit maximisation.

Wacquant (2012: 73f.) argues that the ‘return of social insecurity’is related to the establishment of a new security dispositive. With few exceptions in Europe, including Germany and Austria, he (ibid.: 74) notes, the neoliberalisation of the state led to a strengthening of the punitive infrastructures of the state, such as an increase of prisons and the replacement of social policy by criminalisation. Control and surveillance techniques, including data retention, but also changes in criminal law (such as the ‘Mafia Paragraph’ 278a of the Criminal Code in Austria; the tightening of criminal law with respect to so-called terrorists or against immigrants in Germany and Switzerland) helped to steer citizens’ new technologies of self-government in economically productive directions. Isabell Lorey concludes that in the process of neoliberal modernisation ‘freedom and insecurity’ form the new cornerstones of governmentality, as ‘domestic security discourses correlate with normalised social insecurity’ (Lorey, 2011: n.p.).

The minimal state shall thus be simultaneously ‘strong’. The orthodoxy of the market corresponds with an understanding of politics that emphasises authority, the elite, and leadership. The streamlining of the state is by no means a mere reduction to a kind of‘night-watchman state’ (Nachtivdchterstaaf): it also entails its enhancement as a state of violence. Precisely ‘powerful authoritarian institutions’ of the nation state do not fall apart, as Wolf-Dieter Narr and Alexander Schubert (1994: 131) already noted in the early 1990s. Enemy stereotypes of internationally organised criminality, of terrorists, and ‘sleeper cells’, are a direct expression of this reorganisation of the state and the new regulation of international capital (even before the attacks of September 11, 2001). Since the ‘summer of migration’ in 2015, refugees are stereotyped in this way — as a threat to national security and national welfare states.

Pierre Bourdieu metaphorically speaks of the displacement of statehood from the left, caring hand to the right hand of the state, the economic and constitutional actors in the financial, economic, and justice ministries (Bourdieu, 2000c: 181-188).

Using this scheme, one can diagram neoliberalism as the systematic tilting of state priorities and actions . . . from the protective (feminine and collectivizing) pole to the disciplinary (masculine and individualizing) pole of the bureaucratic field. This proceeds through . . . the colonization of welfare, healthcare, education, low-income housing, child services, etc., by the panoptic and disciplinary techniques and tropes of the right hand.

(Wacquant, 2012: 73f; emphasis in original)

Interestingly and contradictory, the expansion of institutions of state power is accompanied by the marketization of state security', for example, through the outsourcing of security' services to private companies or through the privatisation of prisons in the U.S.A. (Davis, 2012).

The neoliberal state is characterised by its disciplinary' power and by' new ways of taking hold of subjects — new relations between the state and its citizens emerge in the context of the neoliberal re-ordering of the boundaries between market, state, society, and privacy. A key task of the minimalised state is the protection of the freedom of market participants, who are regarded more as customers than as citizens, as citizen-customers, or at most as economic citizens. In this context Aldo Legnaro (2000: 202) postulates that freedom is above all the freedom of ‘market-like contractuality’, which now - as economic contractual freedom — is supposed to characterise all realms of life (also Burchell, 1996: 29). The metaphor of freedom promises ‘multiple options, manifold chances, the thrill of self-entrepreneurialism’ (Legnaro, 2000: 203). Entrepreneurship, the liberation of individuals from the claws of the protective and paternalistic state, the ‘second liberation’ from self-incurred immaturity are connotations strongly associated with the neoliberal freedom discourse. A second - but distinct — project of modernity and Enlightenment shall be set in motion. Understood in this way, neoliberalism is ‘the transformation of freedom into domination’ (Segal, 2006: 324).

Social citizenship is redefined in this process, its universalistic claim successively withdrawn: citizenship (i.e. access to social and political rights) shall arise from the individual, autonomous, and above all economically defined life context and should no longer be regarded as a collective good, based on redistribution and distributive justice. Only the successful, competitive citizen will be recognised as a good citizen. The new paradigm for citizenship is efficacy and competition. The new ‘normal citizen’ is no longer supposed to demand social rights from the state; he/she is rather regarded as a self-responsible individual, and self-responsibility is in turn linked to (self-)employment and paid labour. This concept of citizenship considers citizens primarily as consumers, clients, and customers. The idea of social rights thus tends to become obsolete. Citizenship becomes individualised and increasingly depends on factors such as education, income, region, or mobility - resources that are distributed along class and gender boundaries.

The new idea of citizenship evokes the above-mentioned neoliberal modes of affective entrepreneurial subjectivation. The new relationship to the self as a citizen is also affectively modulated (like Fortier’s, 2010, ‘affective citizenship’; Chapter 2). Living affectively in the right way becomes the condition for accessing or being excluded from citizenship rights: whoever does not master the art of affective self-entrepreneurship runs the risk of being excluded from the labour market as well as from social and political participation and political rights. Only those who master and moderate their feelings - and can apply them precisely — are good neoliberal citizens. The demand to manage one’s own affects and above all to productively put them to use in one’s professional life thus also bears the risk of disempowering people and excluding them from the democratic polity and public sphere of politics. Affective regimes give rise to new forms of belonging but also to new forms of exclusion and boundarydrawing vis-à-vis people construed as ‘Others’, such as migrants, refugees, or Muslims.

In times of austerity the state appears to be shrinking, but ‘at the same time, the state seems to be playing a more expansive role through its concern with the well-being and happiness of its citizens’ (Newman, 2018: 21). The ‘postwelfare state’ (Nadai and Nollert, 2015) actually consists of one new component: the task of reaching people in a new way, of ‘activating’ them (i.e. to guide and lead them to seemingly self-determined action). In the activation paradigm self-government and government by others - also in the form of discipline and punishment — are closely interrelated. For example, labour market and social policies interpellate people as affective beings and economic resources by positioning jobseekers as debtors who are required to pro-actively seek jobs in return for social benefits in order to pay off their moral debt to society'. Neoliberalism creates an atmosphere of state’s mistrust — and ‘public services have become particularly mistrusted’ (Clarke, 2018: 134). The mistrust of the post-welfare state - the suspicion that recipients of social benefits may live at the expense of society — creates a moral feeling of guilt on the part of the affected and a commitment to work on him/herself to remain socially ‘creditworthy’. This sheds light on the paradox of state and emotion, Newman (2018: 23) claims: ‘some facets . . . may remain traditional and hierarchical, while others may turn to new strategies of governing - fostering relationships, engaging citizens in new projects of self-development’.

Despite national differences, a gender-specific pattern of restructuring can be discerned in all neoliberal state transformations. The residual welfare state shall only help out in the case of market failure or when familial social security' structures break down. Diane Sainsbury' (1996) concludes that this results in a considerable disadvantage for women in all welfare states because the spaces of action and decision become restricted in particular for married women and mothers. The neoliberal state project and its re-privatisation strategies also dismantle standards put in place by the welfare state, which had established a minimum degree of social redistribution, more education possibilities for women, and gender-just chances of labour participation (Haussman and Sauer, 2007). The delimitation of the welfare state (its dismantling) thus led to a redefinition of the private realm of women: the boundaries were removed — women now have to render much more work in all respects, paid labour plus an increasing amount of reproductive work.

Not only' the decline of the welfare state, but also the regrouping of the state apparatus, contributes to rising gender inequalities: sectors with close historical links to masculinity' — namely' military forces and police, but also institutions and policies concerned with demographic developments — are strengthened at the expense of quasi-feminised apparatuses1 that were integrated at later historical periods, such as education, social services, and insurance systems. On the whole, these shifts underscore the decline of supporting welfare structures for women and other disadvantaged populations, and the new emphasis on selfresponsibility', combined with restrictive measures directed towards the poor, ethnic minorities, or migrant groups.

Gender relations are, in a word, a central dimension of the reorganisation of governing in the context of the new affective regime. Women are no longer denied the right to vote on the grounds of their affectivity, but the ways of dealing with one’s own feelings and body continue to be (or are once again) essentialist markers of gender diff erences. The neoliberalisation of the affective regime is charged in gender-specific ways, and the capacity to modulate affects effectively and in productive ways is primarily attributed to white men. Minority women and also certain subordinate masculinities (e.g. young migrant men) are denied this capacity. Young male migrants are considered aggressive and young female migrants as submissive — their affective dispositions and habits are believed to be unsuitable for the European world. In this way affective discourses continue to produce second-class citizens. Gendered bodies are markers that represent and produce these new relations of affective domination and governing. Hence, affective governmentality - as government of the self and as government of others — is a form of domination that can lead to disempowerment and to a loss of possibilities for action and decision-making and thus to a loss of democracy. In the following we will pursue the significance of neoliberal transformations and affective regimes for democratic constellations in Europe.

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