13 Austerity and the ‘Workfare State’: The Remaking and Reconfiguration of Citizenship for the Young Unemployed in the Great Recession

  • Alan France


Since the 1980s, the UK, Australia and New Zealand have embraced neo-Liberalism as the way to do social and economic policy (France 2016). While the ‘roll out’ of neo-Liberalism has varied across time and place, it is clear that even in times of more centralist or left governments the expansion of neo-Liberal practice has continued to both maintain a central place in policy making and increase its influence. This is clearly creating an environment where personal responsibility and active citizenship is the ‘norm’ for how the young engage with both the state and civil society (France 2007). For example, New Zealand undertook a successful (though painful) economic restructuring of all walks of life in the 1980s. Neo-Liberal ideas reshaped policies in the economy, in social policy, in education, in health and even in the political system itself. The watershed period for New Zealand was seen as 1984 when the then Labour government introduced ‘Rogernomics’, and even though more centralist governments have been in power since, neo-Liberalism remains of central importance (Craig and Cotterell 2007). In the UK, we also see successive Conservative and Labour governments continue to use neo-Liberal approaches first introduced by Margaret Thatcher, while in Australia the neo-Liberal agenda has its origins in the 1970s and was accelerated by the Hawke government and then by the Howard administration in 1996 (Deeming 2014). The Labour government elected in 2007 offered an alternative to this agenda; however, a number of its economic and social policy strategies were clearly strongly influenced by neo-Liberal philosophy. In 2012, the Liberal–National Party coalition was elected with a strong drive towards neo-Liberal policies and practice.


Gross Domestic Product Public Debt Great Recession Youth Unemployment Active Labour Market Policy 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan France
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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