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Bowles, Benjamin (2022) 'Resilience, infrastructure and the anti-social contract in neoliberal Britain.' Critique of Anthropology, 42 (3). pp. 270-285.

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Abstract

‘Resilience’, a quintessentially neoliberal concept, has never been a politically neutral discourse, its intellectual roots situated in the work of Friedrich Hayek and the birth of neoliberal economics. Nevertheless, resilience in infrastructure is often cast as a technocratic, apolitical consideration. This article argues that this is not the case. Using data collected during fieldwork with the UK Government Cabinet Office during a consultation on how to make infrastructure ‘resilient by design’, resilience discourse is shown to be a tool with which government departments, regulators and companies make communities increasingly responsible for the provision and maintenance of their own infrastructure while justifying service failures as inevitable. This is an under-explored discursive battleground in the neoliberal reframing of the social contract as anti-social; concerning the profit-driven logics of corporate entities as balanced by the rights of individual consumers, and no longer about the relationship between ‘the state’ and a collective civil society.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: infrastructure, neoliberalism, privatisation, resilience, social contract, United Kingdom
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Anthropology & Sociology
ISSN: 0308275X
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.1177/0308275x221120171
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2022 10:55
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/37966
Funders: Other

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