The new youth sector assemblage: reforming youth provision through a finance capital imaginary

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The language of austerity has been widely used to characterize policy-making in post-industrial nations since the financial crisis. Youth services in England are a noted example of the effects of austerity, having suffered rapid and severe cuts following a period of record investment prior to 2008. In this article, I argue that ‘austerity’ is an inadequate conceptual basis for critical analysis of policy-making since 2008, and that youth services are better understood as an exemplar case of the reforming effects of a ‘late neoliberal regime’. The late neoliberal regime describes a regulation of production through a finance capital imaginary, as distinct from the productive capital imaginary of the quasi-marketising neoliberal regime. I argue that late neoliberalism has effected the disassembly of quasi-marketised youth services and simultaneously the emergence of a new youth sector founded on norms of investment and return. I trace the reforming force of this regime through the productive relations of capital distributions, policy discourse, and organizational forms.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-242
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Issue number2
Early online date6 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • neoliberalism, youth services, assemblage, social investment, austerity