The Elgar Companion to the Chicago School of Economics
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The Elgar Companion to the Chicago School of Economics

Edited by Ross B. Emmett

Many know the Chicago School of Economics and its association with Milton Friedman, George Stigler, Ronald Coase and Gary Becker. But few know the School’s history and the full scope of its scholarship. In this Companion, leading scholars examine its history and key figures, as well as provide surveys of the School’s contributions to central aspects of economics, including: price theory, monetary theory, labor and economic history. The volume examines the School’s traditions of applied welfare theory and law and economics while providing a glimpse into emerging research on Chicago’s role in the development of neoliberalism.
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Chapter 13: Neoliberalism and Chicago

Robert Van Horn and Philip Mirowski


Robert Van Horn and Philip Mirowski* Introduction ‘Neoliberalism’ is a term of art in philosophy, history and political theory, although much less commonly used in economics. It refers to a pronounced change in the doctrines related to classical liberalism, dating from the middle of the twentieth century (George 1999, Burns 2004), occurring both in America and in Europe. Often confused or conflated with neo-conservatism and neo-libertarianism, it in fact a fairly coherent and elaborate doctrine, with a well-defined set of origins intimately related to many members of the Chicago School of Economics (Van Horn and Mirowski 2009). It was also invented and nurtured in its early stages by members of the Mont Pèlerin Society (MPS) (Hartwell 1995, Walpen 2004). Moreover, one of its main proponents, Milton Friedman, actually used the term to refer to the movement in its earliest stages (Friedman 1951), although he dropped the reference thereafter. Since the term tends to be used in divergent ways among historians (Denord 2001, Walpen 2004), philosophers influenced by Michel Foucault (Burchell et al. 1991, Barry et al. 1996, Lemke 2001, Foucault 2004), political scientists (Amadae 2003, Mirowski 2005), critics of globalization and a few economists (De Long 1990), we shall attempt here to provide a summary description that captures the salient points of each of their contributions. Neoliberalism The starting point of neoliberalism is the admission, contrary to classical liberalism, that their political program will triumph only if it becomes reconciled to the fact that the conditions for its success...

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