The rise of think tanks and the neoliberal project

Stream: Panel 95 - Public Policy & Social Justice: Understanding and (Re)Conceptualising Neoliberalism 
Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Time: 1.30 pm – 3.00 pm


Think tanks played a pivotal role in the neoliberal and neoconservative capture of political vocabulary in the later part of the twentieth century. In this context, think tanks functioned as distinctive de-democratizing technologies of political education. Significantly, in a world typified by increased juridification and governmentalization of politics, think tanks operate as sites for redefining the relationship between the inherited language of justice and the emerging sphere of rights. My paper construes think tanks as key to understanding neoliberalism rather than auxiliary in its hegemonic armory. It largely focuses on the establishment of the ‘Social Inclusion Unit’ by New Labour and the promotion of the Social Inclusion concept by Demos as example of distinctive approach to justice and right to politics and power that think tanks embody and perform.


Ihab Shalbak (Presenter), Independent Researcher
Ihab Shalbak Sydney based independent researcher. Previously Ihab worked as a lecturer in the Human Rights program and a coordinator of the Social Justice Research Network both at the University of Sydney. In 2015 he completed his PhD on ‘The Birth of Think Tank: Theory, History and Politics in the Long American Century’.