Browse by title
This chapter introduces readers to several key critical approaches to understanding neoliberalism. These include governmentality, Marxism, ideational analysis, institutional analysis, neoliberal thought collective, and processual or geographical analyses. It starts by discussing the use of neoliberalism as a term and concept in academic debate, before going on to outline the different ways that neoliberalism is currently understood in academic circles. The point of the chapter is to problematize the idea that the concept of neoliberalism can be applied easily in the analysis of the social world.
This chapter introduces the second contradiction of neoliberalism and critical understandings of it, namely the emphasis on entrepreneurship as the defining feature of modern subjectivity. Both neoliberals and their critics emphasize the idea that everyone is or has become an entrepreneur in contemporary capitalism. Despite these claims, there is limited evidence that people are actually more entrepreneurial in their actions and behaviours; most critical perspectives that propound this view, for example, do not present substantive empirical support for their arguments. In fact, it is possible to argue that contemporary capitalism is underpinned more by forms of rent-seeking or rentiership in which ownership and control of various assets (e.g. housing) enables individuals to capture and appropriate (rather than create) value. This is evident across the economy from house ownership through social media platforms.
This chapter aims to get readers to think like a neoliberal in order to understand the analytical bases for neoliberal claims about political-economic and normative benefits of markets. It starts by exploring the representation of markets in popular economics and then contrasting these representations with several neoliberal thinkers. The chapter focuses on four key neoliberal thinkers – Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, and Richard Posner – who represent different stages of development of ‘modern’ neoliberalism. In presenting the ideas of these thinkers, the chapter illustrates the different ways that neoliberals conceptualize society and the implications this has for understanding the role of markets as an organizing and coordinating mechanism for social life.
This chapter provides an historical overview of the emergence and evolution of neoliberal thought since the early 20th century. It introduces readers to a range of schools of neoliberalism, including Austrian, Chicago, Virginia, German/Ordoliberal, British, French, and Italian, and discusses how these schools and neoliberalism more generally have evolved over time, especially in relation to attitudes towards corporate monopoly. It does so in order to problematize the idea that there is a coherent or consistent set of ideas that can be characterized as ‘neoliberal’.
This chapter introduces the first contradiction in neoliberalism and critical understandings of it, namely the emphasis on markets as defining feature of neoliberalism versus the importance and role of business and corporations in the economy. In particular, it explores the implications of corporate power to our understandings of neoliberalism as a concept. Several key financial economists sought to theorize this contradiction as a way to legitimate a new form of shareholder governance in which investors are imagined and framed as the most efficient allocators of capital rather than business managers. The chapter thereby highlights the role played by business training and business schools in reproducing and legitimating neoliberal ideas.