Willmott, K. (2017). Taxpayer governmentality: governing government in Metro Vancouver’s transit tax debate. Economy and Society, Pages 255-274 | Published online: 25 Aug 2017
In a 2015 plebiscite, voters in Metro Vancouver, British Columbia rejected a proposed sales tax dedicated to funding a regional transportation plan. Opposition was spearheaded by a taxpayer group that focused on the perceived incompetence and wastefulness of the region’s transportation authority. Exercising a liberal imperative of ‘permanent critique of government’, the taxpayer group assembled evidence addressed to ‘taxpayers’. Developing a theoretical account of ‘taxpayer governmentality’, the paper analyses how people are addressed and fashioned as taxpayer subjects, empowered and responsibilized to govern government, and their own political conduct, as sceptical, calculating, non-political, economic actors. The paper concludes by suggesting that this taxpayer subject may be productive for understanding the practice of liberal critique and limitations of the state.
Keywords: governmentality, taxpayer groups, liberalism, subjectivity