Contesting Symbolic Space: The Struggle over the Employment Contracts Act 1991


  • Jane Scott



This article is based on research concerning the relationship between the neo-liberal project in New Zealand and the mass media since 1984. New Zealand has undoubtedly experienced a major shift in public policy orientation in correspondence with structural changes in the political economy. The assumed role of government under social democratic Keynesianism was questioned and restructuring of the state became central to the neo-liberal project. The resultant policies reorganised economic, political and social priorities were rapidly implemented and had a detrimental impact upon various sectors of society. Consequently, such policies had to be rationalised and strategically promoted in order to marginalise opposition and allay public scepticism. As neo-liberalism was being transmitted to the public, New Zealand's media system was undergoing changes in terms of the surrounding economic environment and media-government relationships. Such circumstances enabled both the fourth Labour Government and the succeeding National administration to routinely communicate their messages. This claim required illustration. To this end I undertook research on the debate conducted in and through the media over the introduction of the Employment Contracts Act (1991).


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Author Biography

Jane Scott,