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Policy change, public attitudes and social citizenshipDoes neoliberalism matter?$
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Louise Humpage

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781847429650

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847429650.001.0001

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Employment and decent wages in a neoliberal economy

Employment and decent wages in a neoliberal economy

(p.83) Four Employment and decent wages in a neoliberal economy
Policy change, public attitudes and social citizenship

Louise Humpage

Policy Press

The most fundamental and enduring aspect of neoliberalisation is its economic agenda, predicated on low inflation, globalised free trade, support for business and a rebalancing of the worker-employer relationship. The first section of this chapter focuses on how such changes interacted with New Zealand views on government’s responsibility to provide jobs and on import and wage controls, while a second is concerned with New Zealand views on unions and a third considers whether a more ‘business friendly’ economy and the privatisation of many state-owned assets changed New Zealand attitudes towards big business and public ownership. Analysis is mainly focused on the covariance between policy and attitudes but the chapter examines whether the unemployment rate may influence responses regarding employment issues, while also considering how ideological affiliation and age mediate attitudes. Each section ends by comparing the New Zealand findings with the available data on attitudinal change in the United Kingdom and Australia. Overall, the chapter illustrates that support for employment-related aspects of social citizenship has in many cases diminished, providing some evidence that citizens have rolled over. But we need to unpack the three key issues discussed to understand neoliberalism’s mixed influence in the economic arena.

Keywords:   employment, economic controls, unions, business, public ownership, attitudes, neoliberalism, New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom

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