Stuart Shields | Capital & Class
This article asks why Poland’s populist Prawo i Sprawiedliwości [Law and Justice] government promotes progressive forms of social reproduction in the context of the supposed crisis of neoliberalism. It illustrates how populism is a response to the ongoing social ambiguity of post-communist transition that redefines and recombines existing and novel political and social resources that are built both on and with existing social arrangements in Poland. It achieves this by analysing the current government’s flagship child benefit programme: 500Plus. The article claims that certain gender norms construct hegemonic neoliberal and populist discourses that legitimise particular policies, illustrating this by bringing into dialogue Janine Brodie’s neoliberal ‘paradox of necessity’, with the notion of ‘fail forwards’ neoliberalisation. The 500Plus policy remains ridden with contradiction, on one hand a potentially progressive intervention in social reproduction that deals with the crisis mode of society but that simultaneously helps ensure the continuation of neoliberalisation.