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Contemporary social evils$
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Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9781847424099

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847424099.001.0001

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A wrong turn in the search for freedom?

A wrong turn in the search for freedom?

13 A wrong turn in the search for freedom?
Contemporary social evils

Neal Lawson

Policy Press

This chapter covers Bauman's notion of excluded ‘failed consumers’, and the concept of ‘social recession’ where individuals may enjoy greater choice as consumers, but are increasingly disempowered as citizens. While it attributes loss of the post-war consensus supporting collective welfare to the 1980s triumph of the New Right, it accuses New Labour of going further than Margaret Thatcher would ever have dared in embracing market forces. Social recession highlights the newly emerging understanding that society can suffer whether the economy is buoyant or, as at the time of writing, is experiencing an accelerating downturn. The neoliberal project was intensely political and was argued for in precise, coherent terms. The growth of individualism and the crisis of community cohesion, social justice and democracy itself have their roots in the way the cultural revolution of the 1960s was skilfully deflected by the right into a crusade for freedom based on free markets.

Keywords:   social recession, New Right, New Labour, Margaret Thatcher, neoliberal project, individualism, community cohesion, social justice, democracy, free markets

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