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“Take Charge of Your Well-Being!”: A Critique of Neoliberalism and Ableism in Higher Education Well-Being Initiatives

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dc.contributor.advisor Lewis, Rachel A Fojtik, Garrett
dc.creator Fojtik, Garrett 2021-04-28 2021-10-14T13:24:27Z
dc.description This thesis has been embargoed for 2 years. It will not be available until April 2023 at the earliest. en_US
dc.description.abstract Higher education well-being initiatives are in need of analysis within critical scholarship on the neoliberal university, on corporate well-being, and within the field of critical disability studies. Despite the proliferation of well-being initiatives in higher education, which is embedded in systems of neoliberalism and ableism, such an analysis is currently lacking within the aforementioned critical scholarship. Through a multi-method approach that combines content analysis with critical discourse analysis, I examine the ways in which higher education well-being initiatives perpetuate these interlocking hegemonies – neoliberalism and ableism – through their discourses of well-being. Through this analysis, it is evident that higher education well-being initiatives perpetuate notions of individual responsibility and other normative values of neoliberalism, obscuring the harmful systemic conditions in and outside of higher education that impact well-being. These well-being discourses also perpetuate ableist, medicalized notions of well-being and an uncritical, unnuanced pro-cure politics. They also broadly serve to other students, faculty and staff with mental disabilities. While most higher education well-being initiatives across the spectrum of institutions perpetuate neoliberalism and/or ableism in some way, some Historically Black Colleges and Universities and some Tribal Colleges and Universities demonstrate productive approaches to well-being that are rooted in the meeting of tangible community needs. Additionally, at predominantly white institutions, the co-optation of anti-racist liberation movements is evident as an emergent trend in need of further research. Finally, I argue for an embrace of feminist care ethics, conjoined with a political analysis of oppression, resistance and liberation, as a more meaningful and liberatory framework of care in contrast to the normative discourse of well-being predominant on higher education campuses. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.subject well-being en_US
dc.subject neoliberalism en_US
dc.subject ableism en_US
dc.subject disability en_US
dc.subject Critical Disability Studies en_US
dc.subject Feminist Ethics of Care en_US
dc.title “Take Charge of Your Well-Being!”: A Critique of Neoliberalism and Ableism in Higher Education Well-Being Initiatives en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies en_US Master's en_US Interdisciplinary Studies en_US George Mason University en_US
dc.description.embargo 2023-04-28

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