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Type: Theses
Title: In whose interest? Privatising power in British Columbia, Canada 2001 – 2011
Author: Burger, Anne Louise
Issue Date: 2017
School/Discipline: School of Social Sciences
Abstract: This thesis analyses the introduction of radical neoliberal electricity policy changes in the Canadian province of British Columbia from 2001 to 2011. The thesis utilises the framework of ‘actually existing neoliberalism’ and applies a class perspective as a contribution to the existing body of scholarship that addresses the new electricity policy. By employing the framework of ‘actually existing neoliberalism’, the thesis highlights the diverse nature, or the variegation, of neoliberalism. The distinctive character of the Liberal government’s neoliberal electricity policy reflects how privatisation and marketisation, although common features of the neoliberal approach, take on their own form in each jurisdiction. This project reveals key economic, social and political factors that played a crucial role in the formation and implementation of the new electricity policy including contestation, class and the role of the British Columbia state. It is shown how the unique character of the new British Columbia electricity policy reflected a ‘path-dependency’ of pre-existing factors in the British Columbia political-social-economic context that the provincial Liberal government needed to navigate in introducing its policy changes. One main outcome, different from other jurisdictions, was that the public utility, BC Hydro, was kept as a crown corporation, although a vastly reduced organisation due to the impact of privatisation and marketisation. In addition, this case study reveals that there are often disparities between the theory and practice of neoliberalism, between what actually occurs with the introduction of neoliberal policy and the principles of neoliberal theory and ideology. Two main contradictions exposed in this case study are the substantial degree of reregulation that occurred, rather than deregulation, and the large extent of government intervention, rather than ‘small’ government. The new private power sector in British Columbia was dependent on rigorous state intervention in order to be profitable, a situation of marketisation of the power system that led to heavy state subsidisation of the private power sector. An important component of this regional case study is the inclusion of the micro-case, ‘Ashlu Creek’. This smaller scale study enables a deeper analysis of the new regional-level neoliberal electricity policy by focusing on the impact of the policy at a local government and community level. ‘Ashlu Creek’ brings to light how resistance, an often over-looked part of neoliberalism in practice, exposed the coercive arm of the state, used to enforce a neoliberal policy regime. This local case study helps illuminate the economic and political forces that determined the Liberal government’s successful enforcement of its new electricity policy and the class interests that were served. Overall, the thesis uses a regional example of actually existing neoliberalism to show that neoliberalism is diverse in practice due to place-specific factors and cannot be fully understood without class power relations being exposed. The actions of the Liberal government demonstrate how a neoliberalised state changes the complexion of society, increasingly favouring capital interests at the expense of other classes and interests and at the expense of the public good.
Advisor: Broomhill, Raymond
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Social Sciences, 2017
Keywords: actually existing neoliberalism
regional policy
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
DOI: 10.25909/5b8626f61bf0d
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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