International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

The role of the entrepreneurial self in predicting prejudices against low status groups in a neo-lib

Daniela Krause, Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence - University of Bielefeld; Eva Maria Groß, IKG, Universität Bielefeld

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence - University of Bielefeld
Research Area: Social inequality and social change

The notion of enterprise culture emerged in the United Kingdom as a central motif in political thought under Margaret Thatcher´s administration. The notion represented a profound shift away from the Keynesian welfare state to a deliberate attempt at cultural restructuring and engineering based upon the neo-liberal model of the “entrepreneurial self” (Rose 1998, Bröckling 2007) – a shift characterised as a moving from a “culture of dependency” to one of “self-reliance” (Peters 2001). Rose (1998) accords a certain political value to the self as an ‘enterprising self’. He predicted that the presupposition of the autonomous, choosing, free self as the value, ideal and objective underpinning and legitimating political activity imbues the political mentalities of the modern West.
In writing about the entrepreneurial self, Rose as well as Bröckling refer to Foucault´s analytical framework of governmentality. The critical contribution of the concept of governmentality for the study of neo-liberal government lies in bridging practices bearing on the self to forms of power. Power then is understood as the creation, shaping, and utilization of human being as subjects, not only as repression, domination or negation of the capacities of individuals. By coupling forms of knowledge, strategies of power and technologies of self, it allows for a more comprehensive account of the current political and social transformations, since it makes visible the depth and breath of processes of domination and exploitation (Lemke 1997).
Based on this analytical framework and on Bröckling´s (2007) sociology of the entrepreneurial self, we developed a measurement, encompassing attitudes that are typical for the general orientation of the entrepreneurial self.
Taken that the neo-liberal myth of the self is the dominant present myth for social inequality in Germany, and based on Social Dominance Theory, we expect the mentalities of the entrepreneurial self to mediate the relationship between social dominance orientation and prejudice against low status groups. In contrast to this model we test an alternative mediation model with the protestant work ethic, which we consider to be the myth of the collapsing welfare state. Following our argument, we expect the first model to result in better model fits and effects.
This should hold true especially within high status groups.
For our analysis we used structural equation models based on representative cross-sectional data of the german survey on ‘Group-focused Enmity’ (N=833).