Six theories of neoliberalism

Flew, Terry (2014) Six theories of neoliberalism. Thesis Eleven, 122(1), pp. 49-71.

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Abstract

This article takes as its starting point the observation that neoliberalism is a concept that is ‘oft-invoked but ill-defined’. It provides a taxonomy of uses of the term neoliberalism to include: (1) an all-purpose denunciatory category; (2) ‘the way things are’; (3) an institutional framework characterizing particular forms of national capitalism, most notably the Anglo-American ones; (4) a dominant ideology of global capitalism; (5) a form of governmentality and hegemony; and (6) a variant within the broad framework of liberalism as both theory and policy discourse. It is argued that this sprawling set of definitions are not mutually compatible, and that uses of the term need to be dramatically narrowed from its current association with anything and everything that a particular author may find objectionable. In particular, it is argued that the uses of the term by Michel Foucault in his 1978–9 lectures, found in The Birth of Biopolitics, are not particularly compatible with its more recent status as a variant of dominant ideology or hegemony theories. It instead proposes understanding neoliberalism in terms of historical institutionalism, with Foucault’s account of historical change complementing MaxWeber’s work identifying the distinctive economic sociology of national capitalisms.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 74626
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Foucault, governmentality, neoliberalism, hegemony, political ideology, new institutionalism, public policy
DOI: 10.1177/0725513614535965
ISSN: 0725-5136 (print) / 1461-7455 (online)
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION (160500) > Public Policy (160510)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES (200100) > Media Studies (200104)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > CULTURAL STUDIES (200200) > Cultural Theory (200204)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Institutes > Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation
Current > Schools > Journalism, Media & Communication
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 The Author(s)
Deposited On: 31 Jul 2014 22:29
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2014 03:56

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