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ISIRC ID: I143. Neoliberalism as trauma: a case study of intergenerational disadvantage in an Australian community

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 20:34 authored by Ronald FreyRonald Frey, Rosmarie Winter, Roberta JulianRoberta Julian
Vinson (2015) characterises some communities as ‘chaos attractors’ where the intricacy and complexity of disadvantage constitutes a wicked problem. In this paper, we draw on complexity theory to provide a critical analysis of a series of interventions in an Australian community characterised by entrenched disadvantage. We argue that focus on risk factors in an attempt to reduce complexity to its component parts fails to account for cumulative impact and non-linear relationships that characterise organic and dynamic systems such as communities.

We propose that the constitutive and interconnected systems in a community can be likened to a brain. Those communities where there are defaults of executive and frontal lobe neurological functions (usually due to an excessive load of traumatic events) will have impaired capacity to respond to programs according to the rational actions and logics imposed by funding bodies. The gaps in the neural networks of different communities will be unique and thus require different approaches. The collective impact approach (Kania & Kramer 2011) will be examined as a way to mimic a neural net for the community, where the backbone organisation operates as executive function, building a specialised team to support community members. The brain analogy helps us explore why current interventions under neoliberalism often fail and suggests alternatives to address disadvantage in the example community.





School of Social Sciences


International Social Innovation Research Conference

Place of publication

Glasgow, Scotland

Event title

11th International Social Innovation Research Conference (ISIRC): Social Innovation: Local Solutions to Global Challenges

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Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Macroeconomics not elsewhere classified; Social class and inequalities

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