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The shift in Icelandic public discourse after the financial crisis: a social awakening against deregulation? An analysis of its causes and actors.

Marco Bo
Università degli Studi di Torino
Marco Bo
Università degli Studi di Torino
Open Panel

Abstract

The irruption of the current economic crisis seems to have changed the relation with which market and state have interacted from 2008 onwards. The exceptionality of the event and the consequent extraordinary state responses, makes it particularly interesting to understand whether the current economic downturn has changed the influence of neoliberal views in political arenas, and, if so, in which ways. Does it mean that neoliberalism lost its grasp and an alternative conception of political economy and public policies has risen? If this is the case, is it possible to identify the agents that promoted this change? Who are they and what kind of alternative views are they advocating? The aim of this paper is to answer to some of these questions by analysing the Icelandic situation as a paradigmatic case from which drawing interesting assumptions. As a matter of fact, the crisis experienced by this country, a former enfant prodige of international finance, is rather representative since it contains many interesting elements that can help us defining a possible path in understanding the formation and/or the awakening of influential agents of resistance. The size and the scope of the “meltdown” –as Icelanders define the crisis– has produced a wider public participation to the political debate, often outside the classic schemes of party politics, shifting the public discourse towards the controversial issues of deregulation, enthusiastically embraced by politicians during the last fifteen years. But is this awakening of collective consciousness going to last after the initial shock? In this paper we shall analyse the formation of these agents both socially (as spontaneous participation) and in more structured spheres, such as traditional politics, analysing the different positions adopted by those parties more critic towards neoliberal policies. Finally, we shall outline what kind of alternatives and solutions they are promoting.