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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Hegemonic Practices and Neoliberal Ideology: Conjunctions and Disjunctions in Discussions of Social Identity

  • Author(s): Simmers, Jennifer
  • Advisor(s): Aguirre, Adalberto
  • et al.

Neoliberalism emerged as an economic framework for raising accountability regarding the economic costs and benefits of social system transactions. But neoliberal practices have extended their scope beyond the economic sphere by materializing as social practices and policies that process social identity to accommodate neoliberal goals. Under the influence of neoliberalism and its conservative political values civic discourse has given way to a language of commercialization, privatization, and deregulation that has resulted in subjective identities rooted in the workings of market relations. The exchange between neoliberalism and the processing of social identity is best observed by examining the construction, maintenance and commodification of identity on the U.S.- Mexico border. Since the 1970s the U.S.-Mexico border has been and continues to produce shifting boundaries and identities that facilitate the expansion of neoliberal economic reforms. Social identities have been produced on the border which merge labor with transnational neoliberal reforms; in a sense, producing a class of laborers whose

identities are not localized, instead they are globalized. The shifting of boundaries has resulted in the identification of the border with immigrant bodies, resulting in the border moving with bodies across national boundaries. The movement of immigrant bodies across national boundaries identifies them as "bodies out of place." The United States responds to the "bodies out of place" by enacting legislative responses, such as the DREAM Act and DACA, which neoliberalize the identities of these bodies.

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