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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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Chapter 2: An intellectual history of neoliberal thought

Kean Birch


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’.

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