Neoliberalism, Conservative Politics, and ‘Social Recapitalization’

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    Although embedded neoliberalism takes different forms, it is nonetheless defined by its commitment to ‘roll back’ the state in terms of its role as a social provider, as a mediator between capital and labour, and as an ameliorator of perceived market failure. Having said this, the British state, certainly if measured by taking government spending as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP), has proved stubbornly resistant to retrenchment processes. Against this background, some on the right have periodically turned to social recapitalization and ways of developing greater civic engagement and voluntary effort in place of state provision. Such projects seemed to offer the promise of redefining the relationship between the individual and the state. Yet, while often seen as communitarian and thereby the antithesis of neoliberalism, such projects constitute a counterpart or corollary. Nonetheless, although the Conservative-led government in the UK has through the austerity measures pursued from 2010 onwards been able to ‘shrink’ the state (considered as a proportion of GDP), it has not had the capacity or commitment to bring about social recapitalization. Although some broader inclusion initiatives have been pursued, the ‘Big Society’ itself has made only a limited impact. The history of neoliberalism suggests that the shrinkage of the British state may therefore, as a consequence, be vulnerable to later ‘roll back’.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalGlobal Discourse: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Current Affairs and Applied Contemporary Thought
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)96-113
    Number of pages18
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2014


    • Neoliberalism
    • Fiscal retrenchment
    • Social capital
    • Civic conservatism
    • Localism

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