• Disciplinary social policy and the failing promise of the new middle classes: the troubled families programme

      Tepe-Belfrage, Daniela; Nunn, Alex; University of Derby; University of Liverpool (Cambridge University Press, 2016-10-17)
      This article looks at the promise of the ‘New Middle Class’ (NMC) inherent in the neoliberal ideological ideal of individualising societal responsibility for well-being and success. The article points to how this promise enables a discourse and practice of welfare reform and a disciplining of life styles particularly targeting the very poor in society. Women and some ethnic minorities are particularly prone to poverty and then therefore also discipline. The article then provides a case study of the Troubled Families Programme (TFP) and shows how the programme and the way it is constructed and managed partly undermines the provision of the material needs to alleviate people from poverty and re-produces discourses of poor lifestyle and parenting choices as sources of poverty, thereby undermining the ‘middle-class’ promise.
    • Do employment services need to be neoliberal

      Nunn, Alex; University of Derby (Routledge, 2018-12)
      There is a divide in the literature on labour market governance between that which sees ‘workfare’ policies as part of a process of neoliberalisation and a more practice-oriented literature that is concerned with the effectiveness and outcomes of ‘active labour market policies’. This chapter engages with these separate but related literatures to make the argument that the trajectory of policy and practice reform in employment services has been inherently neoliberalising over recent decades, and that there is scope to repurpose some of the processes and tools that have been involved in this to more inclusive ends. The chapter proposes that the materialist feminist concept of social reproduction offers one lens through which a more inclusive approach to employment service delivery and management can be viewed. The discussion is tailored to the ways that both national policymakers, local and lower-level implementers and progressive activists may promote a more inclusive form of employment service through their ‘policy work’.
    • Neoliberalisation, fast policy transfer and the management of labor market services

      Nunn, Alex; University of Derby (Taylor & Francis, 2019-06-27)
      Neoliberalism has been a core concern for IPE for several decades, but is often ill-defined. Research offering greater definitional clarity stresses the role of contingent and local level factors in diverse processes of neoliberalisation. This paper contributes to that literature, addressing a surprising gap in critical IPE knowledge; the management practices by which pressures to activate the unemployed and to make them more competitive, are implemented. The paper suggests that performance management, is significant as both a depoliticising policy coordination mechanism and a highly politicised policy implementation practice. The paper invokes a scalar-relational approach which sees the pressure to innovate and compete at lower scales as driven by the political economy of competitiveness at the system scale. The paper reports on research undertaken within the empirical frame of EU meta-governance, showing how performance management is part of lower-scale attempts to adapt to system-scale pressures. It is neoliberalising in both form and content. It concludes by showing that while performance management may be a significant component of neoliberalisation there is scope for engagement and contestation motivated by egalitarian ideals. Critical IPE scholars interested in contesting neoliberalisation should therefore engage with the political economy of management practice as well as policy design.