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The Antagonisms of Choice: New Labour and the reform of public services

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2008

John Clarke
Professor of Social Policy, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University E-mail:
Janet Newman
Professor of Social Policy, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University E-mail:
Louise Westmarland
Professor of Social Policy, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University E-mail:


Choice has emerged as a key idea for the reform of public services in the UK and internationally. This paper explores three sets of problems in the analysis of choice in public policy. First, at what level should we be studying choice (specific mechanisms, national politics, transnational processes and travelling ideas)? Second, what sorts of tendencies, forces and discourses are being mobilised through the politics of choice? Third, we examine the ‘antagonisms of choice’: exploring the different and possibly divergent political conflicts that surround choice in public policy. We examine three types of antagonism: around inequalities, power and publicness.

Themed Section on Choice or voice
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2007

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