Creating a Reality of Markets, Firms, and Consumers

  • Patrick O’Keeffe


This chapter examines the conceptualisation of the state, firms, and consumers, in mainstream Australian policy discourses, as key actors in maximising the productive and efficient use of resources, to serve the broad, and rarely defined, purpose of enhancing living standards. I analyse these constructions to show how liberalised markets, and a “business friendly environment”, are framed as being beneficial for society, despite evidence of increasing inequalities arising from the neoliberalisation of society. In particular, I argue that prioritising the consumer focuses policy upon the end result—the price, quality, and choice of goods or services. In turn, this undermines the importance of key actors and structures involved in the process of delivering products to consumers—such as farmers or workers, and market concentration. I use this analysis to show how policy discourses shift attention away from the significance of market concentration and the power of large firms. Subsequently, policy makers tolerate consolidated markets as an outcome of this process, believing this market structure is the most efficient, and best equipped to enhance consumers’ living standards.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick O’Keeffe
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Global, Urban & Social StudiesRoyal Melbourne Institute of TechnologyMelbourneAustralia

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