Politics of Harry Potter - Neoliberal and Capitalist Values

Neoliberal and Capitalist Values

In an article published in prominent French newspaper Le Monde, literary scholar Ilias Yocaris argued that Harry Potter "probably unintentionally ... appears as a summary of the social and educational aims of neoliberal capitalism." According to Yocaris' analysis, all life at Hogwarts is dominated by a culture of competition: "competition among students to be prefect; competition among Hogwarts houses to gain points; competition among sorcery schools to win the Triwizard tournament; and, ultimately, the bloody competition between the forces of Good and Evil." The free market plays a prominent and positive role, while the state (the Ministry of Magic) is presented as inefficient and bureaucratic. In this "pitiless jungle", education only aims to "give students an immediately exploitable practical knowledge that can help them in their battle to survive," while artistic subjects and social sciences are useless or absent. Yocaris concludes that "like Orwellian totalitarianism, this capitalism tries to fashion not only the real world, but also the imagination of consumer-citizens," producing literature that suggests that no alternative is possible. In an article published in Journal of Contemporary Religion, Michael Ostling also argued that the series depicts a modern capitalist and consumerist society, where the role of gadgetry is played by magic. The article by Yocaris provoked the response by Isabelle Smadja cited previously.

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