Macquarie University
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Bound and gagged by neoliberalism: sustaining liberal democracy by unfettering community services

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posted on 2022-03-28, 18:51 authored by Christopher N. Walker
Community managed organisations are integral to liberal democracy. They enfranchise the vulnerable, facilitate discourse, and uphold the social, civil, and political rights which assure the equality of worth and dignity inherent to citizenship and democratic process. This study adopted a mixed method design within a pre-post, one-arm quasi-experiment to evaluate the efficacy and acceptability of a mobile social networking application, connected with a wearable tracker, to promote physical activity. Quantitative results were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Interviews and focus groups were conducted before and after the intervention to explore users' perspectives. Many years of neoliberal reform have, however, undermined service providers' operational agility and sustainability, rendering them ill-equipped to survive the next phase of neoliberalisation - the competitive market environment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Service providers' adaptability to these changes is, however, critical. Their actions over the next few years will have profound implications for Australian society, extending far beyond the consequences of interruptions in service to their consumers. As the mediators of citizen-state relations, whether - and how - community managed organisations survive competition, both with one another and with incoming for-profit providers, will substantively affect the nature of liberal democracy in Australia. This thesis adopts a semiotics-informed approach to understanding how community-workers reconcile fundamental conflicts arising from neoliberalisation of the welfare-state within which they are systematically and ontologically embedded. It advances a conceptual framework for understanding sensemaking, identity, and agency within dissonant reforms; discusses the implications for non-profit sustainability and liberal-democracy; and contributes to sensemaking and community-development literatures.


Alternative Title

Bound and gagged in the community.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. What is the Welfare State? -- Chapter 3. The rise of neoliberalism -- Chapter 4. Neoliberalising Australia's Welfare State -- Chapter 5. Language creates meaning -- Chapter 6. Domination by division -- Chapter 7. Weick's sensemaking perspective -- Chapter 8. Bricolage -- Chapter 9. Reuniting, renewing, and re-energising the community sector -- Chapter 10. Thesis conclusion -- End notes -- References.


Running title: Bound and gagged in the community. Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 111-130

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Business and Economics, Macquarie Graduate School of Management

Department, Centre or School

Macquarie Graduate School of Management

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Alison Pullen


Copyright Christopher N. Walker 2019. Copyright disclaimer:






1 online resource (130 pages) illustrations

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