Understanding Health promotion in a Neoliberal climate and the making of Health Conscious Citizens

Neoliberal rationality is frequently invoked in critical analyses of health promotion, particularly those analyses stemming from a Foucaultian governmental perspective. Such references made to neoliberalism have been beneficial in highlighting the interconnections between health promotion policy and practice and the larger social, cultural and political systems of governing in which health discourses are embedded. However, beyond referential illustrations of neoliberal ideology, there has been little elaboration as to how specifically the logic of neoliberalism is deployed in such a way as to contribute to shaping contemporary health promotion policies and facilitating the modern-day health-conscious movement. In this article, I will elaborate on this issue and add a level of depth to this discussion. I will specifically explore how neoliberal thought and practice are directly implicated in shaping the way health is promoted. This analysis contributes to the growing body of literature on critical perspectives of health promotion.

Drawing upon Ericson et al.’s five key tenets of neoliberal rationality, I will extend and build upon these principles as they apply to contemporary health promotion strategies. These principles include minimal government intervention, market fundamentalism, risk management, individual responsibility and inevitable inequality as a consequence of choice. Through this effort of situating contemporary health practices within a larger social, political and cultural framework, it is my intent to elaborate and highlight specifically how existing health promotion policies both reflects and reinforces the prevailing political ideology of neoliberalism and furthermore operates in such a way as to facilitate the making of the ‘good’ and ‘healthy’ citizen.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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