The Sexual Politics of Neoliberalism and Austerity in an ′Exceptional′ Country: Italy


  • Cesare Di Feliciantonio KU Leuven & Sapienza- University of Rome


Italy, sexual politics, exception, neoliberalism, homonormativity, sex work


Homonormativity, meant as the “sexual politics of neoliberalism”, has become a widespread concept within social sciences and geography. Associated with the domestication of homosexual lives and the access of LGBT people to full citizenship rights, this notion creates a monolithic account of neoliberalism and its sexual politics all around the Global North. Focused on the case of Italy, the paper challenges this homogenizing concept through adopting the perspective of the “exception” developed by Aihwa Ong to analyse neoliberalism. Following her conceptualization of the interplay between “neoliberalism as exception” and “exceptions to neoliberalism”, the paper shows how the same interplay characterizes the sexual politics of neoliberalism and austerity in the Italian case. Indeed Italy represents an “exception” within the model of the “sexual politics of neoliberalism (and austerity)” concerning LGBT issues, while “exception” has been invoked in Italian politics to regulate sexuality, notably sex work. Moreover, “exceptions” have been assembled by public institutions in order to protect LGBT (consumer) subjects from “risk” and “danger” through a strategy defined as “soft entrepreneurialism”.




How to Cite

Di Feliciantonio, C. (2015). The Sexual Politics of Neoliberalism and Austerity in an ′Exceptional′ Country: Italy. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 14(4), 1008–1031. Retrieved from