Dr Jo Littler
Jo Littler is Professor of Social Analysis and Cultural Politics in the Department of Sociology and Director of the Gender and Sexualities Research Centre at City. Her research on culture, society, in/equality and power is wide-ranging, including work on meritocracy, neoliberal narratives, consumerism, social reproduction and cultural politics.
Her most recent book, Against Meritocracy: Culture, Power and Myths of Mobility (Routledge 2018) is now freely available via open access. Previous books include Politics of Heritage: the legacies of 'race' (with Roshi Naidoo, 2005); Radical Consumption? Shopping for change in contemporary culture (2008); and Anti-consumerism and cultural studies (with Sam Binkley, 2011). Her current book projects include an interdisciplinary manifesto on 'care', co-writtten with Andreas Chatzidakis, Jamie Hakim, Catherine Rottenberg and Lynne Segal ('The Care Collective'), and a book of interviews with left feminist academics.
Jo is an editor of the European Journal of Cultural Studies, part of the editorial collective of Soundings: A Journal of Politics and Culture, and is on the editorial advisory boards of Triple C, Communication, Culture and Critique, Journal of Cultural Analysis and Social Change, New Formations and Cultural Studies. She has edited and co-edited a broad range of journal issues on subjects ranging from intergenerational feminisms and transnational celebrity to environmentalism and anti-consumerism. She is currently co-editing a journal issue on cultural populisms with Marie Moran.
She is a regular speaker at a wide range of public events, which, besides academic conferences includes, for example, speaking at the APPG group on social mobility in parliament, at the national UCU conference, and to cultural practitioners at the Barbican and the Young Vic. She has written many articles for publications/organisations such as Open Democracy, Compass and The Guardian, and her work has been profiled by international media outlets including ABC Australia and Il Manifesto. She has been an external examiner for numerous BA and MA degrees and has supervised and examined a wide range of PhDs in the UK, Germany and Australia.
- Littler, J. (2018). Against Meritocracy: culture, power and myths of mobility. Routledge.
- Binkley, S. and Littler, J. (2011). Cultural Studies and Anti-Consumerism. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-66936-8.
- Littler, J. (2009). Radical Consumption: Shopping for change in contemporary culture. Open University Press.
- Littler, J. (2005). The Politics of Heritage: The Legacies of 'Race'. Routledge.
- Sandoval, M. and Littler, J. (2019). Creative hubs: a co-operative space? In Gill, R., Pratt, A. and Virani, T. (Eds.), Creative Hubs in Question (pp. 155–168). London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-3-030-10652-2.
- Littler, J. and Williamson, M. (2018). Rich TV, Poor TV: Work, leisure and the construction of ‘deserved inequality’ in contemporary Britain. In Deery, J. and Press, A. (Eds.), Media and Class: TV, Film, and Digital Culture (pp. 146–160). UK: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-138-22979-2.
- Littler, J. (2017). More for the many, less for the few. In Perryman, M. (Ed.), The Corbyn Effect ISBN 978-1-912064-68-7.
- Littler, J. (2017). Desperate Success: Managing the mumpreneur. In Littler, J. (Ed.), Against Meritocracy Culture, power and myths of mobility Routledge. ISBN 978-1-138-88954-5.
- Littler, J. (2017). Ideology. In Oullette, L. and Gray, J. (Eds.), Keywords for Media Studies (pp. 146–160). New York, USA: New York University Press. ISBN 978-1-4798-5961-0.
- Littler, J. (2017). Adrift or ashore? Desert Island Discs and celebrity culture. In Brown, J., Cook, N. and Cottrell, S. (Eds.), Defining the discographic self: Desert Island Discs in context Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-726617-5.
- Littler, J. (2016). ‘Consumer culture and cultural studies’. In Shaw, D., Chatzidakis, A. and Carrington, M. (Eds.), Ethics and Morality in Consumer Culture: Interdisciplinary Perspectives London: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-138-79023-0.
- Littler, J. (2016). On not being at CCCS. In Hilton, M. and Connell, K. (Eds.), Cultural Studies 50 years on Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-78348-393-8.
- Littler, J. (2016). Cultural studies and consumer culture. Ethics and Morality in Consumption: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (pp. 233–247). ISBN 978-1-138-79023-0.
- Littler, J. (2016). Meritocracy as plutocracy: The marketising of ‘equality’ under neoliberalism. Neoliberal Culture (pp. 73–100). ISBN 978-1-910448-57-1.
- Littler, J. (2014). ‘Celebrity’. The Routledge Companion to Global Popular Culture (pp. 119–127). New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-64147-0.
- Littler, J. (2012). Good Housekeeping: Green products as consumer activism. In Banet-Weiser, S. and Mukherji, R. (Eds.), Commodity Activism NYU Press.
- Littler, J. (2012). Consumerism. Oxford Bibliographies Online Oxford University Press.
- Littler, J. (2011). What’s wrong with ethical consumption? In Lewis, T. and Potter, E. (Eds.), Ethical Consumption: A Critical Introduction Routledge.
- Littler, J. and Gilbert, J. (2009). Beyond Gesture, Beyond Pragmatism. What is Radical Politics Today? (pp. 127–135). Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-23625-7.
- Littler, J. (2009). Gendering anti-consumerism: consumer whores and conservative consumption. In Soper, K., Thomas, L. and Ryle, M. (Eds.), The Politics and Pleasures of Consuming Differently Palgrave Macmillan.
- Littler, J. and Couldry, N. (2008). The work of work: Reality TV and the negotiation of neoliberal labour in The Apprentice’. In Austin, T. and de Jong, W. (Eds.), The Documentary Reader Open University Press.
- Littler, J. (2008). Heritage and ‘Race’. In Graham, B. (Ed.), Ashgate Research Companion to Heritage and Identity Ashgate.
- Littler, J. (2007). Celebrity CEOs and the cultural economy of tabloid intimacy. In Holmes, S. and Redmond, S. (Eds.), Stardom and Celebrity: A Reader Sage.
- Littler, J. (2006). Festering Britain”: The 1951 Festival of Britain, national identity and the representation of the Commonwealth. In Ramamurthy, A. and Faulkner, S. (Eds.), Visual Culture and Decolonisation In Britain Ashgate.
- Littler, J. (2005). British heritage and the legacies of ‘race'. In Naidoo, R. and Littler, J. (Eds.), The Politics of Heritage: the legacies of ‘race’ Routledge.
- Littler, J. (2004). ‘White past, multicultural present: heritage and national stories'. In Brocklehurst, H. and Phillips, R. (Eds.), History, Identity and the Question of Britain Palgrae.
- Littler, J. (2000). Creative Accounting: Consumer culture, the ‘creative economy’ and the cultural policies of New Labour’. In Gilbert, J. and Bewes, T. (Eds.), Cultural Capitalism: Politics after New Labour (pp. 203–222). Lawrence & Wishart. ISBN 978-0-85315-917-9.
- Littler, J. (1999). The Influence of Advertising. Encyclopedia of Contemporary British Culture Routlege.
- Littler, J. (2019). Mothers behaving badly: chaotic hedonism and the crisis of neoliberal social reproduction. Cultural Studies pp. 1–22. doi:10.1080/09502386.2019.1633371.
- Segal, L. and Littler, J. (2018). Democracy in the making. Soundings, 69(69), pp. 113–128. doi:10.3898/soun:69.07.2018.
- Littler, J. (2018). Young and old meritocracy: from radical critique to neoliberal tool. Renewal: A Journal of Social Democracy, 26(1).
- Brown, W. (2018). Where the fires are. Soundings, 68(68), pp. 14–25. doi:10.3898/136266218822845619.
- Hermes, J., Kooijman, J., Littler, J. and Wood, H. (2017). On the move: Twentieth anniversary editorial of the European Journal of Cultural Studies. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 20(6), pp. 595–605. doi:10.1177/1367549417733006.
- Goodman, M.K., Littler, J., Brockington, D. and Boykoff, M. (2016). Spectacular environmentalisms: media, knowledge and the framing of ecological politics. Environmental Communication, 10(6), pp. 677–688. doi:10.1080/17524032.2016.1219489.
- Littler, J. (2016). ‘Intangible roles: Theory, policy, practice and intangible cultural heritage’. Ethnologies, 36(1-2).
- Winch, A., Littler, J. and Keller, J. (2016). Why “intergenerational feminist media studies”? Feminist Media Studies, 16(4), pp. 557–572. doi:10.1080/14680777.2016.1193285.
- Littler, J. and Winch, A. (2016). Feminism and Childcare: A Roundtable with Sara de Benedictis, Gideon Burrows, Tracey Jensen, Jill Rutter and Victoria Showunmi. Studies in the Maternal, 8(1), pp. 2–2. doi:10.16995/sim.212.
- Littler, J. and Fraser, N. (2015). The fortunes of socialist feminism. Soundings, 58(58), pp. 21–33. doi:10.3898/136266215814379664.
- Littler, J. (2015). The new Victorians? Celebrity charity and the demise of the welfare state. Celebrity Studies, 6(4), pp. 471–485. doi:10.1080/19392397.2015.1087213.
- Littler, J., Power, N. and Precarious Worker's Brigade, (2014). 'Life after work’ roundtable with Nina Power and two members of the Precarious Worker’s Brigade, first published in Soundings 2014, reprinted by New Left Project 2014. Soundings, 56, pp. 67–80.
- Goodman, M.K. and Littler, J. (2013). Celebrity Ecologies: Introduction. Celebrity Studies, 4(3), pp. 269–275. doi:10.1080/19392397.2013.831623.
- Littler, J. and Rustin, S. (2013). Green Shoots?’ Interview with Natalie Bennett. Soundings: A Journal of Politics and Culture, 53, p. 33. doi:10.3898/136266213806045692.
- Littler, J. (2013). Meritocracy as plutocracy: the marketising of ‘equality’ within neoliberalism. New Formations: a journal of culture/theory/politics, 80-81, pp. 52–72.
- Littler, J. (2013). The rise of the ‘yummy mummy’: popular conservatism and the neoliberal maternal in contemporary British culture. Communication, Culture and Critique, 6(2), pp. 227–243. doi:10.1111/cccr.12010.
- Littler, J. (2011). Consuming Authenticity. Novel: A Forum on Fiction, 44(2), pp. 302–304. doi:10.1215/00295132-1261013.
- Littler, J. and Couldry, N. (2011). Work, Power and Performance: Analysing the 'reality' game of The Apprentice. Cultural Sociology, 5(2), pp. 263–279. doi:10.1177/1749975510378191.
- Littler, J. (2010). Book Review: Matthew Hilton, Prosperity For All: Consumer Activism in an Era of Globalization. Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-8014-7507-8 (pbk) $26.95, £16.95. Journal of Consumer Culture, 10(3), pp. 411–413. doi:10.1177/14695405100100030504.
- Cross, S. and Littler, J. (2010). CELEBRITY ANDSCHADENFREUDE. Cultural Studies, 24(3), pp. 395–417. doi:10.1080/09502381003750344.
- Littler, J. and Cross, S. (2010). Celebrity and Schadenfreude: The cultural economy of fame in
freefall. Cultural Studies, 24(3), pp. 395–417.
- Bird, H., Boykoff, M., Goodman, M., Monbiot, G. and Littler, J. (2009). The media and climate change. Soundings, 43(43), pp. 47–64. doi:10.3898/136266209790424595.
- Littler, J., Monbiot, G., Boykoff, M., Goodman, M. and Bird, H. (2009). Mediating climate change: Roundtable. Soundings pp. 47–64.
- Littler, J. (2009). Image events and corporate ecologies: media stunts, guerrilla marketing and the problem of political interpretation. Enculturation.
- Littler, J. (2008). I feel your pain: Celebrity do-gooding, cosmopolitan caring and the globalised soul. Social Semiotics, 18(2), pp. 237–251.
- Littler, J. and Binkley, S. (2008). Cultural Studies and Anti-Consumerism: A Critical Encounter. Cultural Studies, 22(5), pp. 519–530.
- Littler, J. and Moor, L. (2008). Fourth worlds and neo-Fordism: American Apparel and the cultural economy of consumer anxiety. Cultural Studies, 22(5), pp. 700–723. doi:10.1080/09502380802245977.
- Haynes, J., Littler, J. and Greenwald, R. (2007). Documentary as political activism: An interview with Robert Greenwald. CINEASTE, 32(4), pp. 26–29.
- Littler, J. and Schor, J. (2006). Tackling turbo consumption’ An interview with Juliet Schor. Soundings: A Journal of Politics and Culture, 34, p. 45.
- Littler, J. (2005). Beyond the Boycott: anti-consumerism, cultural change and the limits of reflexivity. Cultural Studies, 19(2), pp. 227–252.
- Littler, J., Soper, K. and Barnett, C. (2005). A republic of consumers: Jo Littler in discussion with Clive Barnett and Kate Soper. Soundings: A Journal of Politics and Culture, 31, pp. 147–160.
- Littler, J. (2004). Making fame ordinary: intimacy, reflexivity and ‘keeping it real’. Mediactive, 2, pp. 8–25.
- Littler, J. (2004). Celebrity and “meritocracy”. Soundings: A Journal of Politics and Culture, 26, pp. 118–130.
- Littler, J. Normcore plutocrats in gold elevators: reading the Trump Tower photographs. Cultural Politics.
- Gill, R.C., Ehrstein, Y. and Littler, J. The Affective Life of Neoliberalism: Constructing (Un)Reasonableness on Mumsnet. Neoliberalism in Context by Simon Dawes and Marc LeNormand.
- 50th Anniversary Conference. Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (2014).
Description: Invited speaker
- Keynote, CEPALS conference, ‘Critical work in critical times’. University of Manchester (2019).
- Keynote speaker, BSA education ‘Merit of Meritocracy? 60 years and counting’ event. BSA conference (2018).
- Celebrity Studies international conference. University of Amsterdam (2016). Keynote speaker
- Association for Cultural Studies Third Institute. University of the Free State, Bloemfontein South Africa (2015). Keynote speaker
- Missing the meritocratic dream. Popular Culture: Reading from Below, Skopje University, Macedonia (2015). Keynote lecture
- Popular Culture and World Politics post-conference symposium. The University of Lapland (2011). Keynote
- UCU National ‘Cradle to Grave’ conference, Manchester (2019) Keynote speaker.
- Nordic Celebrity Studies Network Conference, Roskilde University, Denmark (2018) Keynote.
- University of Leicester ‘Wealth and status in the age of Trump’ (2017) Keynote.
- Consumer culture and the commons, ERSC/Glasgow University (2017), Keynote.
- The Myth of Meritocracy. Weekly Economics Podcast, NEF Social mobility in the UK is stagnating. Class privilege is entrenched. Boris Johnson is the twentieth prime minister to go to Eton. What if the idea of Britain as a meritocracy is a myth?
To answer this question, Ayeisha is joined by Jo Littler, a reader in sociology at City University of London and author of ‘Against Meritocracy’, and Sam Friedman, associate sociology professor at LSE and author of ‘The Class Ceiling: Why It Pays To Be Privileged’.
- The Deserving Rich? Culture, Power, Politics What do the members of today’s ruling elite think they are doing, and why? What stories do they tell themselves, and us, to justify their right to rule? Why has almost every senior politician since the 1980s promised to increase ‘social mobility’, and why have they failed? Aeron Davis, author of Reckless Opportunists: Elites at the End of the Establishment and Jo Littler , author of Against Meritocracy: Culture, Power and Myths of Mobilitydiscuss this and other issues in the class culture of modern Britain with Jeremy Gilbert and a great group of attendees at the latest Culture, Power, Politics seminar.
- On meritocracy and the neoliberal era. Politics, Theory, Other 'Jo Littler joins me to discuss the history of meritocratic discourse, how the term meritocracy is deployed in the post-Black Lives Matter and MeToo era, and the explanation for the enduring unpopularity of Charles Windsor.'
- Jo Littler, "Against Meritocracy', interview by Dave O'Brien. New Books Network - Sociology, Politics, Theory How does the idea of ‘meritocracy’ serve to reinforce social inequality?
In Against Meritocracy: Culture, Power and Myths of Mobility (Routledge) Dr Jo Littler, Reader at City, University of London analyses the history of the term, the political project it has been associated with, and the cultural manifestations of its neo-liberal form. The book charts the early, critical and satirical, origins of the idea, mapping its co-option by right wing governments within a project of state transformation and the end of social democracy. Allied to the genealogy of the idea, and the politics of inequality to which it is attached, the book details various manifestations of meritocratic culture that serve to exclude and divide. Here there are rich case studies of inequality of class, gender and ethnicity, ranging from #Damonsplaining, through ‘mumpreneurs’ to normcore plutocrats. Ranging widely, but theoretically grounded, the book is essential reading for anyone wanting to know how our current discourses of fairness have ended up supporting growing social inequality.
- The List. ABC RN Australia http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/thelist/yummy-mummy/5805642
"The Yummy Mummy is a call to arms for new mothers to embrace themselves as sexual creatures. Or is it? Dr Jo Littler at City University in London describes a growing anxiety behind this cultural phenomena. She says the rise of the Yummy Mummy has lead to a boost for neo-conservative values and increased pressure for women to consume."