“Good individualism”? Psychology, ethics, and neoliberalism in postsocialist Russia

by Tomas Matza

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By Tomas MatzaFull Article: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1548-1425.2012.01396.x/abstract

Psychologists working in Russia's cities have found it both desirable and profitable to offer "psychological education" to the children of the elite. I examine two characterizations of this work—as a form of neoliberal subjectivation and as a post-Soviet project focused on progressive sociopolitical reform. Exploring the tensions between them illuminates the historical specificity of self-work in Russia, its relation to commerce and biopolitics, and its political ambiguity. I conclude that studies of governmentality that attend to both subjectivation as an ethical practice and social history can effectively render capitalist complicity and ordinary ethics in the same frame.