The 30 year experiment
Imaginary, history and cases Introduction
in The end of the experiment?
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This chapter draws on Science and Technology studies to argue against naïve metaphors of national disease, and highlights the imaginary that frames those metaphors. It provides context in the form of a broader political history of the role of 30 year policy experiments in post-1945 Britain, and shows how competition came to be the cure for British decline. The imaginary of competition became the dominant basis of economic policy in the early 1980s and licensed the 30 year Thatcher-Blair experiment in structural reform which continues under the 2010 coalition government. The chapter then shifts into political and cultural economy and engages specifics differently as it explains how our three sectoral case studies telecommunications, supermarkets and retail banking reveal the limits of treatment by competition. Supermarkets and dairy or retail banking are both sectors where competition takes the same form of oligopoly in a retail market dominated by giant chains.

The end of the experiment?

From competition to the foundational economy


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