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The consumer, credit and debt: Governing the British economy.

Payne, Christopher (2010) The consumer, credit and debt: Governing the British economy. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

This thesis asks the question 'how did an imagined figure of the consumer, with raised levels of indebtedness, come to be identified as central to the government of the economy in contemporary Britain.' It utilises the method of Michel Foucault and governmentality scholarship generally to understand how British neoliberalism approaches the question of how to govern the economy. The first three chapters analyse the governmentality of neoliberalism as it emerged in the think tanks of the New Right, the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Centre for Policy Studies from the late 1950s to the 1970s. The final two chapters analyse the actual practice of government particularly in relation to monetary and banking policy after 1979. I argue that what distinguishes the governmentality of neoliberalism, at least in the economic sphere, is a particular conceptualisation of the consumer. Specifically ideas about who the consumer is and what different acts of consumption represent provides the basis for a political rationality that formed in contradistinction to the human agent identified by progressive liberals, such as J.M. Keynes, who believed that government had a significant role to play in guaranteeing economic security for workers and entrepreneurs alike. In writing the history of how the consumer has been imagined in economic policy in the latter half of the twentieth century in Britain, this thesis attempts to historicise and problematise this figure, making an explicit link between governing for the consumer, the availability of credit and rising consumer indebtedness.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General, Economics, General
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2089

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