The Rise of Neoliberal Feminism

Catherine Rottenberg

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

277 Scopus citations


Through an in-depth analysis of bestselling "how-to-succeed" books along with popular television shows and well-trafficked "mommy" blogs, The Rise of Neoliberal Feminism demonstrates how the notion of a happy work-family balance has not only been incorporated into the popular imagination as a progressive feminist ideal but also lies at the heart of a new variant of feminism. Embraced by high-powered women, from Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg to Ivanka Trump, this variant of feminism abandons key terms, such as equal rights and liberation, advocating, instead, for a life of balance and happiness. What we are ultimately witnessing, Catherine Rottenberg argues, is the emergence of a neoliberal feminism that abandons the struggle to undo the unjust gendered distribution of labor and that helps to ensure that all responsibility for reproduction and care work falls squarely on the shoulders of individual women. Moreover, this increasingly dominant form of feminism simultaneously splits women into two distinct groups: worthy capital-enhancing women and the "unworthy" disposable female "other" who performs much of the domestic and care work. This split, not surprisingly, transpires along racial, class, and citizen-immigrant lines. The Rise of Neoliberal Feminism thus underscores the ways in which neoliberal feminism forsakes the vast majority of women, while it facilitates new and intensified forms of racialized and class-stratified gender exploitation. Given our frightening neoliberal reality, the monumental challenge, then, is how we can successfully reorient and reclaim feminism as a social justice movement.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages239
ISBN (Electronic)9780190901240
ISBN (Print)9780190901226
StatePublished - 23 Aug 2018

Publication series

NameHeretical thought
PublisherOxford University Press


  • Affect
  • Feminism
  • Governmentality
  • Liberalism
  • Neoliberal feminism
  • Neoliberalism
  • Public-private divide
  • Women's rights
  • Work-family balance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (all)


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