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A Research Agenda for Neoliberalism

Kean Birch

With an ever-expanding variety of perspectives on the concept of neoliberalism, it is increasingly difficult to identify any commonalities. This book explores how different people understand neoliberalism, and the contradictions in thinking of neoliberalism as a market-based ethic, project, or order. Detailing the intellectual history of ‘neoliberal’ thought, the variety of critical approaches and the many analytical ambiguities, Kean Birch presents a new way to conceptualize contemporary political economy and offers potential avenues for future research through a judicious exploration of ‘neoliberal’ practices, processes, and institutions.
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Kean Birch

Thanks to all the publishers for permission to reproduce previously published work in this book. Chapter 3 draws and significantly expands on my blog post published on Discover Society and called ‘How to think like a neoliberal’ (1 July 2015); Chapters 4 and 5 draw on my journal article, Birch, K. (2015), ‘Neoliberalism: The whys and wherefores … and future directions’, Sociology Compass 9(7), 571–84; Chapter 6 draws on my book chapter, Birch, K. (2016), ‘Financial economics and business schools: Legitimating corporate monopoly, reproducing neoliberalism?’, in S. Springer, K. Birch and J. MacLeavy (eds), The Handbook of Neoliberalism, London: Routledge, pp. 320–30; and Chapters 6 and 8 draw on my journal article, Birch, K. (2016), ‘Market vs. contract? The implications of contractual theories of corporate governance to the analysis of neoliberalism’, ephemera: theory & politics in organization 16(1), 107–33.

I would like to thank a number of people who have directly and indirectly influenced my thinking on neoliberalism over the last few the years – not that they are in any way responsible for the contents of this book. I take full responsibility for that alone. Thanks to Larry Busch, Peggy Chiappetta, Brett Christophers, Steve Fuller, Bob Jessop, Les Levidow, Julie MacLeavy, Philip Mirowski, Vlad Mykhnenko, Sean Phelan, Matti Siemiatycki, Simon Springer, Katherine Trebeck, and David Tyfield. I would also like to thank Matthew Pittman at Edward Elgar for his editorial advice and help, the anonymous reviewers for their suggestions, and the various people who made comments on A special thanks to my cousin Sam who showed unstinting support during my ‘writing’ of this book. Finally, and as always, I owe most to Sheila and Maple for making life fun again after long days staring at the computer screen, sometimes in confusion, but mostly in a daze.