Neoliberal paternalism and paradoxical subjects: confusion and contradiction in UK activation policy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The twin thrusts of neoliberal paternalism have in recent decades become fused elements of diverse reform agendas across the advanced economies, yet neoliberalism and paternalism present radically divergent and even contradictory views of the subject across the four key spaces of ontology, teleology, deontology and ascetics. These internal fractures in the conceptual and resulting policy framework of neoliberal paternalism present considerable risks around unintended policy mismatch across these four spaces or, alternatively, offer significant flexibility for deliberate mismatch and ‘storying’ by policy makers. This article traces these tensions in the context of the UK Coalition government’s approach to the unemployed and outlines a current policy approach to employment activation that is filled with ambiguity, inconsistency and contradiction in its understanding of the subject, the ‘problem’ and the policy ‘solution’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-431
Number of pages20
JournalCritical Social Policy
Volume36
Issue number3
Early online date27 Feb 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016

Keywords

  • employment activation
  • governmentalities
  • neoliberal paternalism
  • subjectivation
  • Work Programme

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