Fabricating neoliberal subjects through the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme

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Neoliberalised capitalism, defined by flux and insecurity, engenders fear and anxiety. These affective dispositions discipline responsible citizens towards constant self-managing for capital appreciation. This chapter aims to understand the contours of neoliberal governmentality through the situated examination of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), a 50-year-old diploma organised by a Swiss non-profit and implemented in schools all over the world. We draw on data obtained from a one-year ethnographic engagement with the IBDP offered by a private international school located in Barcelona (Spain), as part of its attempt to gain distinctive advantage in the local marketplace and attract transnational families. The analysis centres on (1) the examination of the IB learner profile, a key discursive artefact encapsulating the programme’s neoliberal rationality; and (2) the disciplining techniques put in place to enforce student self-transformation. We argue that the original IB humanist-liberal philosophy of educating the whole person has enabled a neoliberal co-optation of the programme. IB-commodified selves are protoworkers anxious to outperform in all aspects, brilliant academically but also excellent self-carers and disciplined affective selves. We show how the IBDP is a clear example of the dispersed, destatised and elitising forms of social governance prevalent under the neoliberal regime.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLanguage and Neoliberal Governmentality
EditorsLuisa Martín Rojo, Alfonso Del Percio
Place of PublicationLondon and New York
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9780429286711
ISBN (Print)978-1-138-57522-6
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameLanguage, Society and Political Economy


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