Marx and Engels (1848) in the Manifesto of the Communist Party explained how the drive towards the commodification of human society could be seen essentially as a manifestation of the territorial expansion of capitalist relations. While this expansion continues apace, this article argues that the contemporary period, often referred to as neoliberalism, can be characterised in terms of the intensification of those very same capitalist social relations. In the context of the rolling back of the gains from the post-war Keynesian period and most significantly the welfare state, this uniquely involves the reconstruction of human subjectivity, which, it is argued, threatens the very foundations of progressive social work. This article offer a critical look at the deployment of terms such as 'empowerment' and 'resilience' in policy discourses and the way these are being used to pathologise service users and to reconstruct the relationship between the state and citizenry in this period.
Bibliographical noteThis is a post-peer-review, pre-copy edited version of an article published in Critical and Radical Social Work. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Singh, G. and Cowden, S. (2015) The intensification of neoliberalism and the commodification of human need – a social work perspective. Critical and Radical Social Work, volume 3 (3): 375-387 is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/204986015X14417170590709