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    Conjuring optimism in dark times: Education, affect and human capital

    Sellar, Sam ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2840-5021 and Lew, Zipin (2018) Conjuring optimism in dark times: Education, affect and human capital. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 51 (6). pp. 572-586. ISSN 0013-1857

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    This paper analyses how the discursive construction, valuation and subjective experience of human capital is evolving in parallel with crises of capital as a world-system. Ideology critique provides tools for analysing policy ‘fictions’ that aim to sustain investment in human capital through education. Foucauldian analytical tools enable analysis of how human capital has become a project of self-appreciation and cultivation of positive psychological traits. We argue that the work of Lauren Berlant provides an important complement to these approaches and enables us to analyse how crises of capital are being lived as the cruelling of optimism about social mobility through investment in oneself as human capital. The paper points to an educational politics and pedagogy for living through infrastructural breakdown in darkly uncertain historical times.

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