Governing Identities: Neoliberalism and Communication Design in 1990s Victoria, Australia

Published in: Design and Culture

Volume/Edition: 9 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 1-26

Link to paper on publisher's site: Governing Identities: Neoliberalism and Communication Design in 1990s Victoria, Australia

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Abstract

In 1990s Victoria, Australia, communication design played a complex role in neoliberal government policy and local identity. In keeping with neoliberal principles, the purpose of local government in Victoria was radically reframed, from a partner in Australian democracy to the service-oriented business arm of state government. A swift and significant change in the visual representation of Victorian local governments coincided with and influenced this process. Communication designers were hired en masse to design logos to replace the seals and coats of arms traditionally used to represent Australian local governments. An extensive survey of Victorian emblems before and after local government reform reveals trends in the form and content of post-reform logos that this paper argues aided the state government’s neoliberal reframing of the role of government. Government logos, and communication design generally, play an important, and as yet seldom explored role in mediating governmental power.