Between June 2018 and September 2019, Italy was ruled by a coalition government comprising the far-right League and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement. The government, which was widely referred to as the first populist executive in a major EU member state, alarmed Italian and European elites. In fact, the coalition built its rhetoric on questioning EU legislation, particularly that concerning immigration and, of interest here, fiscal constraints and austerity policies. The executive’s first programmatic document on economic policy, the budgetary plan for 2019, triggered two months of heated negotiations with the European Commission before being approved.
Although critical political economists have investigated how the ‘populist’ government furthered neoliberalism in Italy, an analysis of its organic ties with Italian capital is still missing. Our article addresses this gap by investigating, within a critical Global Political Economy perspective, the competing business interests behind the budgetary plan and how they shaped the formulation of the populist government’s economic policies. The analysis of the executive’s economic policies, together with its organic ties with capital, allows us to explain the rise of the populist government and describe its nature as well as its contradictions which explain its limited transformative potential and its inner fragility.
The findings highlight the relevance of a critical Global Political Economy perspective for investigating economic and fiscal policy in the era of authoritarian neoliberalism, in particular in assessing the EU structural constraints on economic and fiscal policy but also the agency of domestic capital shaping it.
Debate on the need for more fairness in academic research collaborations between actors in Africa (or the ‘Global South’, broadly) and counterparts in the Global North has intensified in recent years, while practice-oriented frameworks and efforts to foster more equitable partnerships have proliferated. Important approaches to recognise and undo asymmetries in concrete collaboration arrangements – division of labour, decision making, access to rewards, capacity building – have been identified.
In this provocation we draw on African and other postcolonial, decolonial and feminist scholarship, as well as systems thinking and global science data to argue that such ‘equitable partnerships’ efforts at best sidestep the urgent need for a much more profound rebalancing of the positioning of Africa and ‘Global North’ in the worldwide science and research ecosystem as a whole. We consider why such wider rebalancing is an imperative for both Africa and the global community, propose that research collaborations must be understood as a key entry point for advancing such a systemic shift, and suggest a necessary transformative collaboration mode to this end. We conclude by positing an urgent need to think and act beyond ‘equitable’ partnerships and highlight where responsibilities for action must lie.
Rates of anxiety have been steadily increasing over the past 20 years, prompting commentators to warn that we are in the throes of a global mental health crisis that is ruining well-being, threatening lives and damaging the economy. By highlighting how a person’s mental health, while nuanced and distinct, is always situated in a larger socio-emotional context or ‘structure of feeling’, this article argues that the issue of rising anxiety is a direct consequence of a biomedical model of treatment and care beholden to a neoliberal economic system that objectifies and isolates people. Through a framework termed ‘liberation health modelling’, it explores the progressive potential of ‘anxious solidarities’ as a way to reframe the problem of anxiety by connecting personal struggles to wider social and economic injustices. At a time when it is becoming impossible to deny the collective and widespread nature of people’s anxieties, the point of anxious solidarity is not simply to recount pain and suffering but to ‘make sense’ of it in relation to overarching structures of social oppression – calling into question the status quo in solidarity with other subjugated groups. Since struggles with anxiety have the advantage of being familiar to most, anyone can be a potential provocateur so long as they disavow an entirely personalised framing of their mental health.
This article considers how theories of social cooperation might be helpful in developing policy levers for changing travel behaviours towards environmentally beneficial outcomes, especially in reducing private car use. ‘Theories of cooperation’ can be described as a shift away from a ‘traditional’ economic focus on selfish individuals to one where individuals care what those around them are doing and even sometimes identify with, and think as, groups. We use a simplified ‘game’ to show how game theory offers a very constrained backdrop to thinking about cooperation in a transport setting: it neglects important social factors, both strategic ones and the general social interactions and ease that may be required as a backdrop to cooperation in real life. We then apply this to ‘use cases’ (lift sharing, on-site travel planning, safe cycle storage and peer-to-peer information sharing) that bridge the gap between the abstractions of theories of cooperation, on the one hand, and the practicalities of policymaking and lived reality, on the other. In doing this, we show how cooperation in travel behaviour can develop in two different ways: as emergent social phenomena (for example, the informal-economy approach to car or bicycle repair) and purposeful policy initiatives (for example, rail-fare discounts for two people travelling together, such as the UK’s ‘two together’ railcard). Somewhat reductively, these could be described as ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ elements within behaviour-change processes. The article shows that: (1) cooperation exists ‘naturally’ in the ‘travel-behaviour policy space’; (2) there is a wealth of opportunities for policy to help make cooperation happen more and/or work better; and (3) this includes opportunities to create the conditions required for cooperation to exist and flourish.
Recent studies emphasise gender attitudes as an explanation for the gender gap in the radical-right vote. However, little is known on whether the (mis)match between the issues that are given the most salience by radical-right parties and (wo)men’s issue priorities accounts for the gender gap in the radical-right vote. Merging a large series of barometers conducted in Spain, including more than 9,000 radical-right voters from January 2020 to March 2023, we find that issue priorities are gendered and that VOX’s support is mainly driven by male issues. Also, importantly, regional nationalism and gender – two of VOX’s flagship issues – affect women’s and men’s probability of voting for VOX differently. These findings indicate that the main determinants of voting for VOX are largely driven by men, not women.
Despite it being not only central to the politics of critical studies on men and masculinities but also one of Connell’s four patterns of masculinity developed alongside the now-canonical ‘hegemonic masculinity’, the concept of ‘complicit masculinity’ has received little attention. This article suggests that complicit masculinities should be understood as political masculinities, in that they are from the beginning shaped by the existing politics and power relations that construct gender. This means acknowledging that masculinities are always at risk of complicity. Rather than this rendering the notion of ‘complicit masculinities’ redundant, I draw on a range of critical studies on men and masculinities to argue that identifying complicity as a feature of masculinities: first, allows us to identify three interrelated dimensions of complicity, which I label as ‘intentional’, ‘structural’ and ‘intersectional’ complicity; and, second, can serve as the starting point for a men’s profeminist politics.
This article critically explores tensions concerning development from contemporary feminist thought and praxis in Latin America. In Ecuador, development is seen as an outdated and irrelevant theoretical framework from a variety of feminist perspectives, including feminist political ecology and decolonial feminisms. Nevertheless, development discourse and practices persist and are central to public policy with a gender focus throughout the country. This results in tensions between governmental and autonomous feminist perspectives that are present in local spaces, such as the province of Esmeraldas in Northern Ecuador. Drawing on research conducted with Afro-Ecuadorian peer researchers, including interviews, oral histories and social-cartography methods, this article will demonstrate how Afro-Ecuadorian women are challenging dominant ideas and practices of development from the emerging ideas of Black feminism in Ecuador and moving towards a Black feminist political ecology in the Americas.