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The Ground Shifting Beneath Us: Collective Memory of New Zealand's Neoliberal Revolution

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posted on 15.11.2021, 23:13 by Brent NeilsonBrent Neilson

This paper explores the collective memory of the neoliberalisation of New Zealand and drastic structural adjustments beginning in 1984 with the election of New Zealand’s Fourth Labour government. Through a cultural sociological analysis of narrative, collected through interviews with both community and voluntary and trade union representatives, use of a cultural sociological understanding of thick description and maximal interpretation reveals how seemingly personal accounts and evaluations take on collective significance. In tracing a path from a collective need for change in New Zealand, to a realisation of the impact of structural adjustment and the collapse of New Zealand’s Labour tradition, this research concludes that the collective memory of this time in New Zealand’s recent history is an ongoing and culturally complex negotiation of collective meaning-making and interpretation. Through an understanding of the collective memory of those who were, and continue to be deeply affected by this period in history, we can begin to understand both the collective impact of neoliberalisation, and the ongoing repair-work needed in New Zealand’s Labour Party, and the Left more broadly.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Arts

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

University Library

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Social and Cultural Studies


el-Ojeili, Chamsy; Snyder, Ben