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After Neoliberalism? Community Activism and Local Partnerships in Aotearoa New Zealand

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In Aotearoa New Zealand, as elsewhere, partnership programmes overtly targeted to the strengthening of local communities are developing in a range of institutional sites. This development, it is claimed by some, moves social governance well beyond the narrow, market‐oriented, contractualism of earlier forms of neoliberalism, and into a new era of joined up, inclusive governance. Here we highlight the emergent role of “strategic brokers” who do the grounded joining up of governance in this new partnering ethos. Drawing on the findings of a large project on local partnerships in Aotearoa New Zealand, we show how community activists have played a distinctive historical role in shaping the form that local partnerships take. We then turn our attention to the current context, examining the rise of mandatory partnership working and the implications of this for community activists. We highlight key aspects of new forms of gendered professionalism, including the need to have both knowledge of and knowledge about communities. In outlining the historical development and current scope of strategic broker roles, we ask what we can learn about the nature of would‐be “post‐neoliberal” social governance.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol UK;, Email: 2: Local Partnerships and Governance Research Group, Department of Sociology, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand;, Email:

Publication date: June 1, 2005


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