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The Missing Politics of UK Pensions Provision

Berry, C ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8035-1155 (2021) The Missing Politics of UK Pensions Provision. Political Quarterly, 92 (4). pp. 707-715. ISSN 0032-3179

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Abstract

Pensions provision in the UK has been undergoing upheaval for several decades, as an already liberal regime has gradually been further liberalised, resulting in the rollout of defined contribution provision via the pseudo-compulsory automatic enrolment system. Yet, the system is dysfunctional, insofar as it replaces the institutional guarantors essential to pensions provision with hazy notions of individual responsibility. The ability of capitalism to reproduce itself is jeopardised as a result. Increasingly, the state, despite scaling back the state pension system, is intervening to subsidise and substitute for a marketised system. Despite the significant risk of poor outcomes for millions of savers in the automatic enrolment system, and the integral role of the state in private provision, pensions policy receives little attention in political debates, or by political scientists. This is driven in part by a lack of salience among the public, which is itself a result of the peculiar temporality of pensions. Yet it is a product also of the disciplinary norms of political science, and the positionality of political scientists.

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