• neoliberalism;
  • policy;
  • crisis;
  • communitarianism;
  • behaviour;
  • economics

The financial crisis which began in 2007 has been widely interpreted as a crisis of neoliberalism, akin to the crisis of Keynesianism of the 1970s. But there is little sign of a major paradigmatic alternative, either in theory or in practice. This article looks at how the crises and failures of neoliberalism are occurring at a micro-policy level, where they are interpreted in terms of the fallibility of individual rational choice. Policy responses to this crisis, drawing on more psychologically nuanced accounts of economic behaviour, can be described as ‘neocommunitarian’, inasmuch as they echo the communitarian critique of the liberal self. Where neoliberalism rests on a vision of the individual as atomised and rational, neocommunitarianism treats individuals as governed by social norms and incentives simultaneously. And where neoliberalism subjects individuals to periodic audit organised around targets and outputs, neocommunitarianism conducts a constant audit of behavioural fluctuations in real time.