The onset of the Great Recession posed a stern challenge to the prevailing model for better living through globalization. Late in the last decade, after having dominated the theory and practice of policy reform for over thirty years, the market-first doctrine known as neoliberalism was criticized for this wave of distress, and the blow to its credibility provoked new interest in alternative strategies. At that time, Jamaica had undergone a long series of adjustments, bringing the national economy into correspondence with the neoliberal approach by shifting more and more responsibility for the reproduction of society away from government and into the hands of individuals. But how widespread was this embrace among the broader population, how have different sectors of Jamaican society interpreted and responded to neoliberal ideals, and what options remain? This essay contributes to the assessment of possible courses for redirecting action by investigating the degree to which the neoliberal ethic of entrepreneurial individualism has come to occupy the discourse of admirable behavior in one rural Jamaican community. Drawing on archival and ethnographic research, it examines the impact of neoliberal reforms on Jamaica's small-farming sector and the congruent significance of those reforms for the Jamaican national populace. The essay then identifies a course for navigating the conditions obtained after the recent crisis in the global economy, in which, despite having surrendered the validity of its promise, the neoliberal paradigm remains dominant.
Edward Sammons; Much Too Much Selfishness: Holding Neoliberalism at a Distance in Rural Jamaica. Small Axe 1 March 2014; 18 (1 (43)): 125–137. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-2642809
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