The Neoliberal Age?

Britain since the 1970s

Edited by Aled Davies, Ben Jackson, and Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite

ISBN: 9781787356856

Publication: December 07, 2021

What is this?
The late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries are commonly characterised as an age of ‘neoliberalism’ in which individualism, competition, free markets and privatisation came to dominate Britain’s politics, economy and society. This historical framing has proven highly controversial, within both academia and contemporary political and public debate.

Standard accounts of neoliberalism generally focus on the influence of political ideas in reshaping British politics; according to this narrative, neoliberalism was a right-wing ideology, peddled by political economists, think-tanks and politicians from the 1930s onwards, which finally triumphed in the 1970s and 1980s. The Neoliberal Age? suggests this narrative is too simplistic.

Where the standard story sees neoliberalism as right-wing, this book points to some left-wing origins, too; where the standard story emphasises the agency of think-tanks and politicians, this book shows that other actors from the business world were also highly significant. Where the standard story can suggest that neoliberalism transformed subjectivities and social lives, this book illuminates other forces which helped make Britain more individualistic in the late twentieth century.

The analysis thus takes neoliberalism seriously but also shows that it cannot be the only explanatory framework for understanding contemporary Britain. The book showcases cutting-edge research, making it useful to researchers and students, as well as to those interested in understanding the forces that have shaped our recent past.

Praise for The Neoliberal Age? Britain since the 1970s
'The Neoliberal Age? Britain since the 1970s is well worth reading and not only because the generous publishers allow you to download it free.' - Nick Cohen, The Observer

Aled Davies is Career Development Fellow in Modern History at Jesus College, Oxford University.

Ben Jackson is Associate Professor of Modern History at Oxford University.

Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite is Associate Professor of Twentieth-Century British History at UCL.

List of figures
List of tables
List of contributors
List of abbreviations

1. Introduction: A neoliberal age?
Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, Aled Davies and Ben Jackson
2. What came between New Liberalism and neoliberalism? Rethinking Keynesianism, the welfare state and social democracy
David Edgerton
3. Intellectual histories of neoliberalism and their limits
Ben Jackson

Part I. Welfare State and Social Policy
4. Welfare in a neoliberal age: The politics of redistributive market liberalism
Peter Sloman
5. The failures of neoliberalism in Britain since the 1970s: The limits on ‘market forces’ in a de-industrialising economy and a ‘New Speenhamland’
Jim Tomlinson
6. British varieties of neoliberalism: Unemployment policy from Thatcher to Blair
Bernhard Rieger

Part II. Work and Family
7. ‘I don’t know how she does it!’: Feminism, family and work in ‘neoliberal’ Britain
Helen McCarthy
8. Workers’ voice and the moral economy in Britain’s ‘Neoliberal’ Age
Jim Phillips
9. Where was entrepreneurship in post-war Britain? Freedom, family, and choice in modern British shopping cultures
Sarah Mass

Part III. Politics
10. ‘The privatisation of the struggle’: Anti-racism in the age of enterprise
Camilla Schofield, Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, Rob Waters
11. Neoliberalism and the Labour Party
Mark Wickham-Jones
12. Neoliberalism and Conservatism in Britain
James Freeman

Part IV. Political Economy
13. Organised business and the rise of neoliberalism: The Confederation of British Industry 1965-1990s
 Neil Rollings
14. The roots of Britain’s financialised political economy
Aled Davies
15. Begrudging neoliberalism: Housing and the fate of the property-owning social democracy,
Guy Ortolano

16. Afterword: British neoliberalism and its subjects
Tehila Sasson


'The Neoliberal Age? Britain since the 1970s is well worth reading and not only because the generous publishers allow you to download it free.' - Nick Cohen, The Observer

Format: Open Access PDF

398 Pages

3 B&W illustrations

Copyright: © 2021

ISBN: 9781787356856

Publication: December 07, 2021

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