Book Chapter

Girl trouble: Not the ideal neoliberal subject


In this chapter, I consider a totemic figure of the early twenty-first century—the successful girl—in the context of the legacy of UK New Labour’s ‘Gifted and Talented’ policies and of girls’ success as a defining trope of the period. Highly achieving girls have been a focus of discourses of choice, of self-improvement, and of postfeminist optimism; I explore ways in which such girls engage with neoliberal success narratives as they encounter them in schools, as formally identified successful subjects. While for some, meritocratic accounts of self-management and hard work provide satisfactory explanations for their success, others seek to evade restrictions, reconcile contradictions, and to find spaces for thinking differently about competition and success in the gaps and cracks created by neoliberalism’s paradoxes and elisions.

Attached files


Paule, Michele V.A.

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences\Department of History, Philosophy and Culture


Year of publication: 2018
Date of RADAR deposit: 2018-12-20

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Related resources

This RADAR resource is the Accepted Manuscript of Girl trouble: Not the ideal neoliberal subject
This RADAR resource is Part of Interrogating the neoliberal lifecycle: The limits of success [ISBN: 9783030007690] / edited by Beverley Clack and Michele Paule (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).


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