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The politics of the world bank's socio-institutional neoliberalism

Carroll, Toby James (2007) The politics of the world bank's socio-institutional neoliberalism. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis analyses the so called post-Washington consensus (PWC) and the role of the World Bank in its promotion and implementation. It argues that the PWC represents the promotion of a new form of neoliberalism - socio-institutional neoliberalism (SIN) - which stems from the conflict and contradiction associated with the Washington consensus based around earlier neoliberal prescriptions such as fiscal discipline, trade liberalisation and privatisation. While seeking the continued extension of liberal markets attempted by proponents of the Washington consensus, SIN rigorously specifies the institutional elements that neoliberals now see markets requiring. It stipulates a particular state form and even allocates roles to specific social institutions. Vitally, SIN is not just about policy content. Indeed, it is an attempt to shape the very environment through which policy can be contested. To this end, SIN includes important delivery devices and political technologies to aid with embedding reform, in an attempt to resolve one of the major problems for the Washington consensus: insufficient progress in reform implementation.

SIN is highly political in terms of its ideological commitments, the policy matrices that these commitments generate and the processes by which the implementation of reform is attempted. As a political programme, SIN seeks nothing less than the embedding of a form of governance that attempts to contain the inevitable clashes associated with the extension of market relations. While this attempt at extending market relations inextricably links the Washington consensus with the PWC, it is the substantive efforts and new methods associated with the latter to deliver and deeply embed policy which make it distinct.

Yet SIN continues to face differing degrees of acceptance and resistance in the underdeveloped world. Here it is essential to consider internal Bank dynamics, relations between the Bank and member countries, and the various alliances and conflicts within these countries and their involvement in either promoting or resisting SIN reform. A feature of this thesis is the analytical framework that allows systematic consideration of these diverse political dynamics. Crucially, the reality of such political dynamics means that there is often a significant gap between what the World Bank promotes and what occurs on the ground.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Asia Research Centre
Supervisor(s): Rodan, Garry and Jayasuriya, Kanishka
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