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Family Values


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About the Author

Melinda Cooper is Associate Professor in the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Sydney, Australia. She is the author of Life as Surplus: Biotechnology and Capitalism in the Neoliberal Era.


Cooper's book leaves us with a bleakly realistic account of the (often Christian) rightwing patriarchal forces whose resoundingly angry response to feminist and pro-welfare activism has sought to stifle the impact of the women's movement from the 1960s onwards, especially in regard to economic, racial and reproductive freedoms. One might assume that similar ideas are at work in the Trump administration today. Under the weight of such antagonism the tenacity of feminism is nothing short of miraculous, and Cooper's sombre analysis serves to remind the pro-feminist left and the women's movement of how few in number we are, and have been.


Magisterial...[Cooper] brilliantly shows how enmeshed we are, as political and economic agents, into the family form, and how necessary this is to the reproduction of neoliberal capitalism.


In an academic world flush with and made into silos by specialized topics, research articles, and books, Melinda Cooper's interdisciplinary integration is a most welcome map of the historical and contemporary forces that created political alliances between neoliberalism and neoconservatism. This book promises to be a classic study of the role that the family played in fomenting alliances between neoconservatives and neoliberals. Many academic disciplines beyond cultural studies may find particular chapters helpful in the classroom as well.


If there's one lesson to be drawn from Melinda Cooper's masterful new study of capitalism and the American right, it's that this supposed opposition between neoliberalism and social conservatism is a caricature... The two movements were hardly mere allies of convenience, let alone mortal enemies. On the contrary, Family Values reveals how their close conceptual and practical collaboration helped to build the foundations of the contemporary social world.


Brilliant and original.

-London Review of Books

Reorients the unit of social analysis of the neoliberal critique from homo oeconomicus to familia oeconomica, from man to the family, that bastion of liberal progress and possibility that constituted and sustained man all along. Cooper's book will change our conversation. It pro vides such a detailed and comprehensive argument, one so astutely staged on multiple levels of mediation from policy to theory to possibilities and limita tions of commodification itself, that it will certainly become a conceptual index for those interested in understanding the American school of neoliberalism.

-Theory & Event

Cooper offers invaluable insights into how US neoliberals through their focus on the family created the potential for claims to morality that social conservatives of all ilks could find palatable. I plan to include this book on the syllabus the next time I teach a graduate course on neoliberalism, and hope that others, who may be befuddled or fascinated by the contradictions of neoliberalism when it is put into practice, will read this book.


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