In the aftermath of the financial crisis, policy-making in post-industrial nations has been widely characterised in terms of austerity. Yet this provides an insufficient basis for an understanding of social policy-making at this time. I argue for a ‘late neoliberal’ phase distinguished by a change in the regime governing the emergence of public service formations. I work from the example of UK policy discourse to demonstrate how in late neoliberalism austerity, social investment and localism operate in conjunction. Beyond fiscal constraint, this conjunction serves to move social policy on from ‘quasi-marketisation’ to reflect more closely the logic and forms of finance capital. The effects of this change can be seen in the reconstitution of ‘value’ in public services, how capital is distributed, and in the subjectivating force of policy. Ultimately late neoliberalism serves to sustain and reproduce familiar relations of domination.
- social investment
- public services