Chapter 8: Neoliberalism as a contract-based order
This chapter introduces the third contradiction of neoliberalism and critical understandings of it, namely the emphasis placed on markets as the key organizing institution and mechanism for society. Contractual relations underpin markets, and this has not been analyzed sufficiently by critics of neoliberalism. The chapter outlines and discusses the historical evolution of contract law in common law countries in order to show how markets and market actors are both ‘made’ and ‘unmade’ through new contractual relations, especially those based on standard form or boilerplate contracts. These illustrate the extent to which only certain social actors (e.g. business entities, professional groups) are considered, legally speaking, to be market actors. Consequently, it is helpful to theorize neoliberalism as a contract-based order, rather than market-based one.
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