The new spirit of neoliberalism: equality and economic prosperity

International Social Science Journal (Chinese Edition)

No.4, 2019


The new spirit of neoliberalism: equality and economic prosperity (Abstract)


Hélène Périvier and Réjane Sénac


The twenty-first century began with a global crisis that is both economic and political in nature. In this context, an approach based on demonstrating how equality policies and the struggle against various types of discriminations are ‘performing’ has emerged. The approach is designed to show that priority must be given to implementation of the principle of equality, with ‘performance’ measured in terms of a cost-benefit analysis from an economic and social perspective. We analyse public justification of contemporary policies on gender equality and the fight against discrimination to highlight the consequences of this approach. We look at the role of equality in market regulation in order to shed light on the complex links between economic development and social progress. We show that justifications of equality policies draw on a cost-benefit analysis which legitimises them in terms of the economic and social benefits expected. We conclude that the foundations of equality and social justice are weakened by the importance accorded to the supposed or imagined benefits of equality policies and anti-discrimination. Equality thus submitted to a demonstration of its performance is no longer a principle but rather an option dependent on such demonstration.