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Neoliberalism and Australia's Economic Relationship with Japan: Policy Paradigms in a Global Political Economy

Beeson, Mark (1996) Neoliberalism and Australia's Economic Relationship with Japan: Policy Paradigms in a Global Political Economy. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The increasing internationalisation and integration of global economic activity has meant that the way nations seek to manage and accommodate such external imperatives is a critical determinant of national economic welfare. There has, however, been a notable variety of responses to these ubiquitous forces. In Australia, neoliberal ideas came to exert a powerful ideational influence over policy-makers during the 1980s as they attempted to reposition 'Australia' in response to the exigencies of external competition.

This thesis will argue that Australian policy makers' commitment to neoliberal ideas meant that policy was constructed within a limited set of theoretical parameters, which were unable to take account of the specific corporate and governmental practices of major trading partners. The thesis analyses the utility and effect of neoliberal ideas on the conduct of Australia's international economic relations, with particular reference to Japan. Japan is Australia's principal trading partner, an important potential source of investment capital, and the dominant economic actor in a region with which Australian policymakers seek greater 'integration'. This important economic relationship provides an appropriate case study with which to test the efficacy of the neoliberal model and the assumptions that inform it.

It will be demonstrated that some of the central concepts and assumptions of neo-classical theory, which are central to the discourse of neoliberalism, bear little resemblance to commercial practices in the region of which Australia is a part. In the course of this study, it will be argued that the dominance of neoliberal ideas may be best understood by considering their discursive influence, particularly as this was reinforced by an influential group of academics and government officials. The theoretical assumptions of these ideas will be examined, and the preconditions that rendered them attractive at a specific historical juncture detailed. It will be suggested that neoliberal ideas informed a specific political rationality which had discernible effects on a range of policy issues in Australia, but which was especially evident in the area of external economic policy.

Publication Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Social Sciences
Supervisor: Rodan, Garry
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