Girl Trouble: Not the Ideal Neoliberal Subject

  • Michele Paule


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.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Humanities and Social SciencesOxford Brookes University, Harcourt Hill CampusOxfordUK

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