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Resisting the zombie economy: Finding the right metaphor for neoliberal crisis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNeoliberalism in Context
Subtitle of host publicationGovernance, Subjectivity and Knowledge
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783030260170
ISBN (Print)9783030260163
Published1 Jan 2019

King's Authors


Since the 2007/2008 global financial crisis, deregulated financial markets and debt-dependent growth remain in force. Austerity has ensured that the financial losses incurred are borne by the poorest. However, the time of crisis is also an opportunity to challenge the terminal decline of neoliberalism. A 2016 London conference, Beyond the Zombie Economy: Building a Common Agenda for Change, brought together academic and non-academic researchers and activists to discuss alternatives to the UK austerity agenda and the surge to the Right among the ‘left-behind’ in the post-crisis West. We show here how collective acts of meaning-making began, but did not end, with the ‘working metaphor’ of the Zombie Economy. Collaborative engagement between different types of experts produced a set of shared understandings and possible solutions that shaped an alternative policy agenda, moving from critique to alternatives through informed and structured discussion. This chapter details the use of the artist-in-residence as a knowledge exchange device to co-create a ‘Common Agenda’ poster image that articulates the shared political economic narrative of the alternative to austerity and neoliberalism. The movement from the zombie metaphor, indicating the living-dead state of post-crisis neoliberalism, through a creative engagement between different types of experts, produced an agenda for alternatives to austerity and neoliberalism monsterous decline.

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