Petroleum Products, Neoliberalism, and the Ecology of Entrepreneurial Life
This chapter examines an enduring promotional construct of oil-based existence—“entrepreneurial life”—that propelled the neoliberal refashioning of American social life, institutional politics, and urban settlement during the last several decades of the twentieth century. Using a Gramscian-Foucauldian approach, the chapter first articulates three interventions to the debates over “neoliberalism.” It then outlines the basics of the refining process and suggests that the very nature of the process itself ensures multiple petroleum products. It also considers a specific cultural object produced by the petroleum industry that actively constructs an imaginary of petroleum-dependent life: an “educational” film titled Fuel-Less (a parody of the hit 1995 film Clueless), prepared by the American Petroleum Institute for sixth- to eighth-graders. The chapter concludes by discarding the neoliberal politics of ecology (or nature) in favor of a framework that takes into account the ecology of neoliberal politics.
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