The cultural politics of human rights and neoliberalism

Nash, Kate. 2019. The cultural politics of human rights and neoliberalism. Journal of Human Rights, 18(5), pp. 490-505. ISSN 1475-4835 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Do human rights offer the potential to challenge neo-liberalism? I argue that rather than understanding human rights as ideology, as obscuring or legitimating neo-liberalism, it is more productive to see both human rights and neo-liberalism as hegemonic projects. In this article I explore convergences and divergences between dominant discourses and practices of human rights and neo-liberalism around key ideas ‘the state’, ‘the individual’ and ‘the nation’, to clear a space for appreciation of the cultural politics of human rights: divergences in constructions of responsibility and hierarchies of value of concrete individuals offer openings for challenging ideas and practices of neo-liberalism through campaigns for human rights.

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Identification Number (DOI):


ideology, hegemony, socialism, social democracy, state, cosmopolitan, individual

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Unit for Global Justice (UGJ)


7 June 2019Accepted
11 September 2019Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

12 Jun 2019 08:37

Last Modified:

15 Jun 2021 00:14

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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