Comparative European Politics

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 126–142 | Cite as

The battle for hegemony: Resistance and neoliberal restructuring in post-crisis Europe

  • Owen WorthEmail author
Original Article


The post-crisis environment has seen a number of poignant developments over the nature of political and economic continuity. As austerity policies have emerged, a wide collection of resistance has grown which has been marked by civil and political demonstration. The result has been the emergence of a number of different positions from both the left and the radical right which have sought to challenge the centrist political management of the crisis. Following earlier work on the nature of such resistance (Worth in Resistance in the age of austerity. Zed Books, London, 2013b), this article argues that its fragmented nature has led to the failure of the left to develop a coherent alternative to austerity. It also highlights how some Eurosceptic positions on the right have emerged in such a way that they either have followed the Tea Party in advocating a far more market centrist neoliberal position (such as UKIP in Britain) or have looked to side-line economic issues with a reactionary pursuit of anti-multicultural issues. By using a Gramscian understanding of hegemony, the article suggests oppositional groups have lacked a form capable of mustering a successful ‘war of position’ in challenging austerity. As a result, the main principles of neoliberal governance – market generated growth, deregulation, fiscal prudency – which were seen as untenable in 2008, have re-emerged through the guise of austerity and debt management. Indeed, it can be suggested that neoliberalism has actually consolidated its hegemonic position due to greater debates both on the role that state should play in bailouts and on the fact that through austerity, neoliberalism appears able to survive periods of crisis.


post-crisis Europe hegemony war of position neoliberal continuity resistance 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Politics and Public AdministrationUniversity of LimerickLimerickIreland

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