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Managing the discontent of the losers

Mark Setterfield ()

Review of Social Economy, 2020, vol. 78, issue 1, 77-97

Abstract: During the 1990s, social structure of accumulation (SSA) theorists identified the solidification of a neoliberal SSA that included a capital-citizen accord based on ‘managing the discontent of the losers’. This created social stability by reconciling working households to material hardships emanating from the neoliberal labour market by means of either coercion or non-economic distraction. This paper argues that there was, in fact, a material basis to the neoliberal capital-citizen accord, including the ability of households to accumulate debt in order to limit the growth of consumption inequality arising from burgeoning income inequality. The material basis of the capital-citizen accord broke down during the financial crisis of 2007–2009, destabilizing the accord itself. The result is that the neoliberal SSA is now threatened by rising populism. The outcomes of this process are highly uncertain – a key characteristic of the periods of inter regnum that separate successful SSAs.

Date: 2020
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Working Paper: Managing the Discontent of the Losers (2018) Downloads
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DOI: 10.1080/00346764.2019.1623908

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