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Tom Sparks

Neo Liberalism Definitions

3 min read

From a paper by Petar Kurecic and Goran Kozina link

1. Neoliberalism is a project primarily aimed at freeing capital from the constraints imposed by these “embedded liberalisms”, and more directly as a process ultimately focused on restoring the class power of economic elites. (Harvey, 2005: 11);

2. Neoliberalism names an approach to governing capitalism that emphasizes liberalizing markets and making market competition the basis of economic coordination, social distribution, and personal motivation. It recalls and reworks the 18th and 19th century liberal market ideals of economists such as Adam Smith and David Ricardo. And yet it is new – hence the ‘neo’ – insofar as it comes after and actively repudiates the interventionist state and redistributive ideals of welfare-state liberalism in the 20th century. (Sparke, 2013: 1);

3. Neoliberalism is a simple withdrawal of the state from markets and society via trade liberalization, privatization, reduced entitlements, and government deregulation. (Hess, 2011: 1056);

4. Neoliberalism is an ideological hegemonic project, selectively rooted in the free market and non-interventionist state philosophy of classical liberalism, and internationally propagated by think tanks and intellectuals like Hayek and Friedman in their assault on “egalitarian liberalism”. (Peck and Tickell, 2007);

5. Neoliberalism is a specific policy and program—a process of “creative destruction” that aims to replace the national institutional arrangements and political compromises of Keynesian-Fordism with a “new infrastructure for market-oriented economic growth” set within a globalizing and financializing economy. (Brenner and Theodore, 2002: 362);

6. Neoliberalism is as a form of governmentality, which follows Foucauldian ideas in emphasizing how neoliberal governmental power operates in multiple sites and scales from the state down to the personal level “not through imposition or repression but rather through cultivating the conditions in which non-sovereign subjects are constituted” as entrepreneurial, self-reliant, rational-economic actors (Hart, 2004: 92).

7. “Neoliberalism defines a certain existential norm…. This norm enjoins everyone to live in a world of generalized competition; it calls upon wage-earning classes and populations to engage in economic struggle against one another; it aligns social relations with the model of the market; it promotes the justification of ever greater inequalities; it even transforms the individual, now called on to conceive and conduct him- or herself as an enterprise. For more than a third of a century, this existential norm has presided over public policy, governed global economic relations, transformed society, and reshaped subjectivity.” (Dardot and Laval, 2013: 3);

8. Neoliberalism seeks to disaggregate communities into discrete units, each with an economic value. (Narsiah, 2010: 390).

9. Amid widespread privatization, cuts to public expenditure, and reduced social transfer programs, violence has become both a conduit of societal bigotry and an attempt by beleaguered states to regain their footing (Goldberg, 2009). Violence from above comes attendant to both “roll-back” neoliberalism, where regulatory transformation sees the state narrowly concerned with expanding markets to the peril of social provisions, and “roll-out” neoliberalism which concentrates on disciplining and containment of those marginalized by earlier stages of neoliberalization (Peck and Tickell, 2002). (Springer, 2011: 549).


Some usefull defintions: 

Egalitarianism (from French égal, meaning 'equal'), or equalitarianism, is a school of thought within political philosophy that prioritizes equality for all people. Egalitarian doctrines are generally characterized by the idea that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or moral status.

Liberalism is a political and economic doctrine that emphasizes individual autonomyequality of opportunity, and the protection of individual rights (primarily to life, liberty, and property), originally against the state and later against both the state and private economic actors, including businesses.