This book explores the politics, institutional dynamics, and outcomes of neoliberal restructuring in Israel. It puts forward a bold proposition: that the very creation of a neoliberal political economy may be largely a state project. Correspondingly, it argues that key political conflicts surrounding the realization of this project may occur within the state. Neoliberal restructuring and the institutionalization of permanent austerity are dependent on reconfigured power relations between state actors and are manifested in a new institutional architecture of the state. This architecture, in turn, is the context in which efforts to change social and employment policies play themselves out. The volume frames the coming of neoliberalism in Israel as a set of concrete and far-reaching changes in the power and modes of operation of the key players in the political economy. These changes undermined and neutralized veto players and enabled the ascendance of two state agencies - the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank - which gained greatly augmented authority and autonomy. These reconfigurations were set in motion by state initiatives that combined punctuated and incremental change.The volume comprises case studies of changes in specific social and labor market policies, revealing a close elective affinity between programmatic neoliberal changes on the one hand, and on the other the proactive drive of the Ministry of Finance to enhance its control over public spending and policy design. The book explores successful neoliberal reforms but also reforms that were blocked, undermined, or overturned by opposition, emphasizing the importance of reformers' capacity to translate temporary achievements into entrenched strategic advantages.
Neoliberalism As a State Project
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