Jobless and Godless: Religious neoliberalism and the project of evangelizing employability in the US The authors contributed equally to the research for and writing of this article

Brian Hennigan, Gretchen Purser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the wake of welfare reform, there has been growing scholarly attention to ‘religious neoliberalism’ and, specifically, to the practices and politics of faith-based organizations in neoliberalized landscapes of social service provision. While much of this scholarship has suggested a seamless ‘fusion’ between conservative evangelicalism and neoliberal ideology, ethnographic research has tended to reveal the far more complicated, and contradictory, reality of evangelical social projects as they play out on the ground. Presenting the first in-depth ethnography of a faith-based job-readiness program, this article examines the contradictory logics operative within the project of what we call ‘evangelizing employability.’ Targeting joblessness, the program urges entrepreneurial independence. Targeting godlessness, the program urges righteous dependence on God. The project of evangelizing employability reveals the extraordinary utility of religion for the enactment of neoliberal priorities and policies of work enforcement and contributes to our understanding of religious neoliberalism and its class-based contradictions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-104
Number of pages21
JournalEthnography
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

Keywords

  • employability
  • faith-based organizations
  • homelessness
  • job-readiness
  • neoliberalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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