Mindfulness – the Buddhist derived meditative practice of cultivating attention to the present moment – has become a secular global phenomenon. Analysis of Mindfulness’s political significance remains rare, despite its take-up by political actors and popular critiques of commodified, instrumentalised ‘McMindfulness’. This article argues that Mindfulness exemplifies how technologies of the self occupy a key, contested space between reproducing and challenging contemporary power relations. Critiques of McMindfulness are extended via themes of de-politicization and the construction of neoliberal subjectivity. But more cognitively focused accounts of meditation practice, and wider critical-theoretical concepts, are then used to reconstruct Mindfulness, indicating its expansive political potential. ‘Micro Mindfulness’ is shown to enhance the neglected area of individual agency within deliberative democratic theory. Further, ‘Macro Mindfulness’ resonates with the radical democratic understanding of political subjectivity and ‘democracy to come’. Most expansively, Mindfulness is a resource for developing critical consciousness and even prefiguring alternative futures.
|Number of pages||18|
|Journal||Critical Policy Studies|
|Early online date||2 Jun 2021|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 2 Jun 2021|
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
- deliberative agency
- neoliberal subjectivity
- radical democracy
- technologies of the self
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Public Administration