Rethinking the ‘neoliberal thought collective’ thesis

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Globalizations, 2019, 16 (6), pp. 948 - 965
Issue Date:
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© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Numerous scholars have identified the ‘neoliberal thought collective’ as the key driver of the neoliberal transformation. These accounts emphasize the building of neoliberal hegemony through the mobilization of this collective, and the New Right parties who aligned to these ideas. We argue that Australia's corporatist road to neoliberalism pushes against this thesis, as the movement found little sympathy among policy makers. Rather, the thought collective acted more like a ‘ginger group’, attempting to radicalize public debate and create space for new neoliberal arrangements. In Australia, successive centre-left Labor governments rolled out neoliberalism in a series of formal corporatist arrangements with the trade union movement. This paper sets out a reconsideration of the role of the thought collective, on the basis of the Australian experience, and argues this can move us beyond the ideational determinism that has come to characterize key accounts of how neoliberalism developed.
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