Building on the last chapter’s survey of the varied policy feedback effects known to shape public opinion, this chapter explores New Zealand’s turbulent political and policy history between 1984 and 2011. Shifts in neoliberalism’s nature over roll-back, roll-out and roll-over phases suggest that New Zealand attitudes towards social citizenship may also fluctuate over time. Discussion of each key phase in New Zealand is punctuated by brief analysis of significant variances in the type, strength and/or timing of policies implemented in the United Kingdom and Australia, identifying where trends in public attitudes may also differ across geographical space. In focusing on four key policy areas, the chapter also stresses that neoliberalism’s implementation has been far from uniform, even within one time period or country. Nor has it gone uncontested, with both political divisions within government and public demand for electoral reform and policy reversals providing a final reason why we cannot assume that New Zealand attitudes towards social citizenship have been comprehensively and coherently transformed. This background provides a crucial context for the following chapters, which each examine how neoliberalism — in all its diversity — shaped attitudes towards social citizenship in one of the four key policy areas.
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