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Srivastava, Sanjay (2022) 'Relation Flexibility: "Personality Development", Selfhood and the Limits of Theorising Neoliberalism in India.' American Ethnologist, 49 (4). pp. 1-13.

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Since the 1990s, training programs for service-sector jobs have proliferated in India. Frequently referred to as “skills training,” these programs aim to overcome the perceived cultural and professional “deficiencies” of youth from the poorest sections of society. They focus on “soft skills” and “personality development,” teaching body etiquette, time discipline, and emotional control; introducing students to “global” cuisine and commodities; and developing English-language skills. How do the students in these programs make sense of attempts to train them in new dispositions? An ethnography of Indian skills training finds that capitalism's most marginal subjects creatively engage with its possibilities, in ways unaccounted for in arguments about the making of “neoliberal subjectivity.” For contexts like this—in which neoliberal processes may not necessarily produce neoliberal subjects—a more productive account is found in anthropological writings on split and partitioned selves as deliberate acts of self-making. Among Indian skills trainees, this may be conceptualized as “relational flexibility.”

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: skilling, soft skills, personality development, youth, selfhood, neoliberalism, work, India
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Anthropology & Sociology
ISSN: 00940496
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2022 14:43
Funders: British Academy

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