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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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Normalising neoliberal social security reforms

Normalising neoliberal social security reforms

(p.115) Five Normalising neoliberal social security reforms
Policy change, public attitudes and social citizenship

Louise Humpage

Policy Press

Social security reform is a second key aspect of neoliberalism, facilitating a shift from ‘welfare’ to ‘workfare’. The first section of this chapter explores New Zealand views on government taking responsibility for assisting and spending public monies on the unemployed, as well as whether the unemployed have a responsibility to work in return for their benefits. A second section examines public support for broader neoliberal discourses around individual responsibility, welfare dependency and individualist causes of need. The chapter analyses changes in the unemployment rate, spending on unemployment and general social expenditure where relevant, while also considering the role of ideological affiliation, age and income source may play in mediating attitudes. The qualitative data highlights both complexity and ambiguity in attitudes towards the unemployed but this chapter, nonetheless, argues that New Zealanders came to accept neoliberal social security reforms and their rationales. Assessing the relevant attitudinal data from the United Kingdom (UK) and Australia at the end of each section finds a high level of coherence in public views towards social security after three decades of neoliberalisation.

Keywords:   unemployed, government responsibility, individual responsibility, welfare dependency, need, attitudes, neoliberalism, New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom

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