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Austerity: Neoliberal dreams come true?

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Publication details

JournalCritical Social Policy
DateAccepted/In press - 31 Jan 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 29 Mar 2018
DatePublished (current) - 1 Aug 2018
Issue number3
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)461-481
Early online date29/03/18
Original languageEnglish


The 2008 global economic crisis paved the way for the construction of a new, elitedriven, capitalcentric, shrunken welfare state project founded on ideology disguised as pragmatism and objective ‘truths’. Today, welfare states exist in a context in which a new politics of austerity sets the parameters of the debate. Austerity incorporates the neoliberal desire to shrink the (social welfare) state, deregulate labour markets and emphasise private markets as the drivers of growth, enabling a reconfiguration of the interests of capital, the needs of people and the role of the state. The new politics of austerity looks like a ‘dream come true’ for neoliberals. Or is it? There is also a powerful counternarrative that suggests that the global crisis exposed the fundamental weaknesses and limitations of neoliberalism and forced policy makers to question core principles and change direction. Focusing on the International Monetary Fund (IMF), perhaps the preeminent global neoliberal interlocutor, and using quantitative textual analysis, the article locates some evidence of movement, but little to suggest that the fundamental assumptions of neoliberalism have been displaced.

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    Research areas

  • austerity, IMF, neoliberalism, welfare states

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