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“Good individualism”? Psychology, ethics, and neoliberalism in postsocialist Russia



Psychologists working in Russia's cities have found it both desirable and profitable to offer “psychological education” to the children of the elite. I examine two characterizations of this work—as a form of neoliberal subjectivation and as a post-Soviet project focused on progressive sociopolitical reform. Exploring the tensions between them illuminates the historical specificity of self-work in Russia, its relation to commerce and biopolitics, and its political ambiguity. I conclude that studies of governmentality that attend to both subjectivation as an ethical practice and social history can effectively render capitalist complicity and ordinary ethics in the same frame.