Liquid advocacy: Social welfare advocacy in neoliberal times

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This article examines current inconsistent trends in social welfare advocacy literature. Some studies show evidence of widespread engagement in advocacy by nonprofit organisations, while other studies conversely offer evidence of limited advocacy activities. Another controversial aspect stems from the question whether governmental funding undermines the extent to which nonprofits engage in advocacy. We argue that these findings reflect the contradictory impact of neoliberal governance on social welfare advocacy. The article highlights and discusses three interrelated components of neoliberalism and their impact on current social welfare advocacy: marketisation, precariousness and commodification. Neoliberalism has propelled a model of market-driven civil society that has remade the practice of social welfare advocacy in contradictory ways. With its complex rationales, neoliberalism has simultaneously undermined the ability of nonprofits to engage in advocacy but in a paradoxical way has also created conditions that induce these organisations to practice advocacy. Implications for practice and research on social welfare advocacy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-262
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Social Welfare
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Author(s). International Journal of Social Welfare © 2016 International Journal of Social Welfare and John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • neoliberalism
  • nonprofit organisations
  • precarity
  • social welfare advocacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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