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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 4: Different conceptions of neoliberalism

Kean Birch


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.

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