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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 6: Neoliberalism and the problem of the corporation

Kean Birch


This chapter introduces the first contradiction in neoliberalism and critical understandings of it, namely the emphasis on markets as defining feature of neoliberalism versus the importance and role of business and corporations in the economy. In particular, it explores the implications of corporate power to our understandings of neoliberalism as a concept. Several key financial economists sought to theorize this contradiction as a way to legitimate a new form of shareholder governance in which investors are imagined and framed as the most efficient allocators of capital rather than business managers. The chapter thereby highlights the role played by business training and business schools in reproducing and legitimating neoliberal ideas.

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