Depoliticization and the continuity of Neoliberal Policies
ISF Grant 2018-2021
What explains the resilience of neoliberal policies after the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) even when their political dominance was eroded by significant social and political powers that challenge them? I suggest that one important factor which supports neoliberal policies is the ideational-institutional depoliticization of economic policymaking, which has been based on neoliberal ideas of government: economic ideas that focus on appropriate decision-making processes rather than on appropriate policies per se. I argue that ideational-institutional depoliticization has restrained the ability and willingness of powerful social and political actors to change neoliberal policies. This argument is demonstrated through a process-tracing analysis of three case studies in which neoliberal policies were challenged, which took place in Sweden (2014–2018) and Israel (2011–2019).
The Impact of Macroeconomic Policy Rules (MPRs) on Popular Discourse and Preferences
ISF Grant 2021-2025
Advanced capitalist democracies have adopted macroeconomic policy rules (MPRs) – “fiscal rules” and “inflation targets” - since the 1980s. MPRs’ basically aim to “tie the hands” of elected governments and thereby restrain the influence of popular preferences on macroeconomic policymaking. But what if the adoption of MPRs not only restrains popular preferences, but also reshapes them? We hypothesize that despite being described by their advocates as politically-neutral, MPRs have encouraged a more conservative and technocratic media coverage of macroeconomic policies. We further hypothesize that since individual perceptions are affected by media coverage and framing, such change in media coverage has enhanced conservative and technocratic perceptions among individuals. We examine these hypotheses through several work packages which include computerized text analysis and qualitative content analyses of long-term media coverage of macroeconomic policies as well as a set of survey experiments.
Government Credibility beyond the Market
With Michal Koreh
Government credibility is crucial for promoting social and environmental goals. But in recent decades governments adhered to neoliberalism and promoted only one type of credibility - market credibility. This research project aims to define and conceptualize additional types of government credibility - not least social credibility and environmental credibility - and to examine how the institutionalization of one type of government credibility affects other types of credibility-enhancing institutions. Ultimately the questions on which we focus is which types of government credibility our governments should adhere to and how should we prioritize and strike a balance between them.
Economic Professionalization of Industrial Relations
With Assaf Bondy
Industrial relations in Israel have been characterized by a process of economic professionalization - an enhanced involvement of professional economists in collective bargaining. What are the drivers of this process and what are its consequences? We argue that previous stages of liberalization of industrial relations contribute to such economic professionalization. Specifically, processes of decentralization and marketization have increased the complexity of industrial relations and weakened the power of unions, thereby encouraging trade unions to rely on economists’ expertise and advice. We further contend that economists not only assist unions in achieving their traditional goals but also seek to affect how unions define their preferences and the ways to achieve them. Specifically, professional economists tend to promote the depoliticization of industrial relations and market-friendly adaptations of collective agreements. We corroborate these arguments through an in-depth analysis of the case study of Israel, based on some 30 semi-structured interviews with union leaders and economists involved in industrial relations.