By Martijn Konings
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Extra info for The emotional logic of capitalism : what progressives have missed
Capitalism, far from making authority anonymous and indifferent, makes things personal: it gets into our heads, becomes part of our identity, disposition, and desires, our basic sense of self. Such poststructuralist insights push us towards understanding hegemonic signs as iconic in nature: they are productively implicated in the constitution of subjectively meaningful identities and practices. In Foucault’s work the connections between the institutional dimensions and constitutive practices of modern power were not always articulated with sufficient clarity.
It is the pivot of the economic logic through which self and order are internally connected. This connectivity of capitalist life is what a disembedding narrative is not sufficiently attuned to, as it sets too much store by the claims of the dismal science, the idea of an autonomization of financial principles and the fragmentation of social and public life. The immanent character of modern power has been one of the central concerns of Foucaultian theory (Foucault 1991; 1995; Gordon 1991; Dean 1999; Rabinow and Rose 2006; Miller and Rose 2008; Nadesan 2008).
As Zelizer puts it in her more recent work: “Seen from the top, economic transactions connect with broad national symbolic meanings and institutions. Seen from the bottom, however, economic transactions are highly differentiated, personalized, and local, meaningful to particular relations” (Zelizer 2000, 386). This emphasis on the duality of money is crucial: the twentieth century has seen a dramatic proliferation of a wide variety of financial institutions, relations, and instruments that address and shape a bewildering variety of experiences, yet all these connections are anchored in a dollar standard that is more stable than ever before.