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

Whitworth, Adam (2016) Neoliberal paternalism and paradoxical subjects : confusion and contradiction in UK activation policy. Critical Social Policy, 36 (3). pp. 412-431. ISSN 0261-0183

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    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’.

    ORCID iDs

    Whitworth, Adam ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6119-9373;