The new political economy of disability: transnational networks and individualised funding in the age of neoliberalism

Disability support systems in many OECD countries have undergone significant changes in contexts of rapid neoliberalisation. Services that were once provided or commissioned by the state are now increasingly arranged through various forms of ‘individualised funding’ (IF), allocated to individuals or families to enable them to choose, purchase and manage the services they use from a mixed market of disability service providers.

How and why has IF taken hold in the disability sector in recent years? This is the central question to which this paper provides an answer. Drawing on original empirical research from my PhD project (2014 – 2018), the paper traces the movement and mutation of IF in and between three countries – England, Scotland and Australia – and explains how and why it has proliferated in the ways that it has. I argue that IF has become a global policy trend propelled not only by hegemonic actors on the Right of politics, but by activists and advocates of the transnational Left. In so doing, I bring a transnational and comparative perspective to debates around the neoliberalisation of disability policy, and contribute new insights into the role that social movements and transnational advocacy networks play in shaping patterns of neoliberal policy diffusion.

Georgia van Toorn is a critical policy scholar with a recently conferred joint PhD from the University of Glasgow and the University of New South Wales. She has recent publications in the areas of social policy, political economy and critical disability studies.

Need assistance to register for this seminar? Ring +612 9385 7800.

Register to attend