The neoliberal agenda has been in place in Aotearoa / New Zealand, under governments of different political persuasion, since the mid-1980s. An important aspect of this agenda has been to construct an environment in which individuals are expected to take more responsibility for their own wellbeing rather than rely on the state. This shift is characterised by Raco as one from “welfare-based forms of expectational citizenship” inherent in the post-war Keynesian policy framework to entrepreneurial and dynamic modes of “aspirational citizenship” integral to the neoliberal project (Raco, 2009: 438). This article seeks to examine whether this shift occurred among the adult New Zealand population over the period 1990–2014.
There has been some exploration of changes in the attitudes of New Zealanders under neoliberalism; this article expands on this work by using a different analytical framework, through an examination of the views and characteristics of self-defined working and middle class respondents. The data used are from the New Zealand Election Study, which has been conducted after each General Election since 1990. The time series of data available allows tracking of change over a substantial period of time. The analysis however, is limited by changes in the questions asked in the survey over time.