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Unsettling the Memes of Neoliberal Capitalism through Administrative Pragmatism

From Austerity to Abundance?

ISBN: 978-1-78714-466-8, eISBN: 978-1-78714-465-1

ISSN: 2045-7944

Publication date: 12 November 2018


This chapter explores the challenges presented to public organizations by neoliberal thinking and the acceptance of the neoliberal capitalist agenda. Demonstrably, severe economic, political, and social dislocations are the result. Nevertheless, neoliberal influence remains and intensifies. We argue that this counterintuitive result is not grounded in either instrumental or theoretical merit but in the creation and dissemination of certain identifiable memes. The chapter proceeds with a critical examination of current neoliberal memes, an appraisal of their impact on government, society and economics, and the derivation of alternative memes from a Smithian perspective on political economy. Based on this critique and the derived memes, the chapter offers suggestions for a pragmatic cultural and administrative praxis that promise not only to moderate the influence of neoliberal memes and to mitigate tendencies for the propagation of new disadvantageous memeplexes, but also to avert the problems associated with the traditional distrust of government agencies and their top-down, disengaged, technical, and expert-driven solutions.



Abel, C.F. and Kunz, K. (2018), "Unsettling the Memes of Neoliberal Capitalism through Administrative Pragmatism", From Austerity to Abundance? (Critical Perspectives on International Public Sector Management, Vol. 6), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 35-58.



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