The complexity of human motivation and social interaction has been increasingly simplified to that of the utility-maximising individual of the economics texts. The consumption behaviour of individuals has received much greater prominence. The apogee of all this was perhaps Margaret Thatcher's statement: 'There is no such thing as society, only individuals and families.' The essential philosophical underpinning of this trend is the neo-liberal emphasis on economic rights as opposed to social goals. Thus the right to pursue economic interests unfettered is held up as being prior to the pursuit of a better society, not least because the exercise of economic freedoms is believed to result in the best outcomes.
~ Clive Hamilton, The Australia Institute
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