The Neoliberal Production of Deserving and Undeserving Poor: A Critique of the Australian Experience of Microfinance

Catherine Mackenzie, Jonathon Louth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Neoliberalism as economic orthodoxy has facilitated the onset of social and public policy that is required to 'fit' with the common sense of our times. This article critiques the growth of government-supported financial capability programs in Australia. We explore the experiences of a sample of rural South Australians who have accessed microcredit. We found that microcredit provides an avenue for poverty survival by reducing the stresses associated with financial shocks through consumption smoothing, yet that the extent to which microcredit contributes to addressing poverty and inequality is questionable. We critique how the discourse of financial resilience aims to produce deserving neoliberal citizens who are moving toward self-reliance. We conclude that effort should be directed at developing a structural, proportionate universal approach that does not rely on financially vulnerable individuals navigating a regulatory environment that rewards and punishes in accordance to a market logic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-35
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Policy and Society
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • financial resilience
  • financialisation
  • Microfinance
  • neoliberalism
  • welfare

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