The desire for freedom and the consumption of politics

Melissa A. Orlie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this essay I argue that commodity consumption is to the regime of political capitalism at the turn of this century what Michel Foucault claimed for discourses of sexuality in the bio-political state. If I am right, then understanding contemporary subjectivities requires granting greater political credence to practices of commodity consumption than they generally receive and a correlative paradigm shift in our notion of desire – from discourses of sexuality to erotics of appetite. But whatever ‘ethical substance’ we focus upon when we analyze our contemporary situation I think we must give greater consideration to practices of individual conduct. We must grant due attention to the uses to which our bodies, skills and resources are put, and to our active as well as passive participation in that usage, because our everyday conduct may be the missing link between our professed convictions and our actual political prospects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-417
Number of pages23
JournalPhilosophy & Social Criticism
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2002


  • Michel Foucault
  • capitalism
  • commodity consumption
  • conduct
  • democracy
  • ethics
  • freedom
  • politics
  • sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science


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