“Rumours of neoliberalism’s death have been greatly exaggerated”: Re-moralisation of the poor in Aotearoa New Zealand

Eileen Oak


It is contended that, those who argue for the demise of neo-liberalism tend to see it in purely economic or socio-political terms and do not deconstruct its epistemological, methodological or ontological dimensions. Thus, they tend to treat neo-liberalism as a monolithic entity and to adopt a crude reading of hegemony as some form of ideological or cultural domination which leads to an overemphasis on the agency of anti-capitalist or anti-neoliberal tendencies within global society. They also tend to conflate capitalism with neo-liberalism and fail to recognise that both have had legitimacy crises at different times. As a result of these methodological weaknesses it could be argued neo-liberalists present a premature reading of the economic crisis as the end of neo-liberalism. Drawing upon the welfare policies of the contemporary National government, it is argued that not only is neo-liberalism ‘alive and kicking’ but that that these policies represent more entrenched laissez-faire policies. Moreover they are underpinned by classic Victorian discourses of the ‘deserving’ and’ undeserving poor’ which result in the re-moralisation of those groups of poor who are recipients of welfare.
Key words: neoliberalism, anti-capitalism, hegemony, deserving/undeserving poor


neo-libweralism, anticapitalism, underclass

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11157/sites-vol12iss1id271