Bare enterprise: US television and the business of dispossession (post-crisis, gender and property television)

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European Journal of Cultural Studies, ISSN: 1460-3551, Vol: 20, Issue: 5, Page: 490-508

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Laurie Ouellette
SAGE Publications
Social Sciences; Arts and Humanities
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article description
This essay examines the quotidian forms of dispossession and bare enterprise that emerge when homes and belongings are repossessed and auctioned off for profit while TV cameras roll. Focusing on a spate of recent US reality programs revolving around pawnshops, repossession agents, storage unit auctions and foreclosed home flipping businesses, I chronicle an unabashedly ruthless performance of homo economicus. I link the biopolitics of disposability evidenced across these programs to an emerging stage of neoliberal governmentality that has little interest in transforming ‘failed’ citizens and, therefore, differs from the charitable interventions and makeover regimens circulated by US television. Finally, I consider some tensions and points of resistance that television’s cruel new turn may register.