Explain Brodie’s definition of neoliberalism in your own words.

A

Margaret Brodie describes the gender inequality in Canada and attributes it to the efforts of the government to change the political and social order. She claims that the philosophy’s treatment of matters such as gender and race is contradictory and may prove to be its fatal weakness. Welfare is used as an example, as Brodie describes the feminization of poverty and states that it is caused by the shift to the so-called “welfare state.” She argues that the trend of the male-benefitting focus in policies has continued into the neoliberal state.

In this context, neoliberalism means a social order that returns to pre-Great Depression conceptions of liberalism but is grounded in neoclassical economics. According to Brodie, it is rooted in the performativity philosophy, which in turn relies on three factors: privatization, decentralization, and individualization. The first involves the relegation of public duties to private companies to achieve better service and bolster their economic performance. The second is the transfer of power from the government to lesser, not necessarily democratic units. The third is the shift from a society focus to one centered on families and people. Together, these policies form the core of contemporary neoliberal governance.

Despite Brodie’s earlier criticism of the welfare state, she concludes that it promoted gender equality to a higher degree than the current government. In her opinion, the focus on all women as an undifferentiated category helped reduce polarization, unlike the individual-centric approach of the neoliberal policymakers. Furthermore, people are now more likely to attribute success and failure to personal merits. She finishes the chapter with the claim that the current policies will lead to higher marginalization if they are left unchecked.

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