The Neoliberalism Working Group at the European University Institute seeks to interrogate theoretical perspectives on the nature of neoliberalism, drawing on scholarly sources from across the disciplines. The reading group met over six months in 2015-16, in preparation for a March 2016 symposium organized by the working group, with a keynote by economist and historian of science Philip Mirowski. The goal of our meetings was neither to pin down what neoliberalism ‘really’ is, nor to discuss whether it’s a good or bad thing, but to critically engage with a variety of arguments that have been associated with the term. By eschewing transcendental definitions, the hope was to familiarize ourselves with popular vocabularies of resistance (to, variously, market absolutism, financialized capitalism, increases in capital’s global class power) while inoculating against the careless use of contested, politically-loaded terminology masquerading as conceptual analysis. The conveners of the working group are Ola Innset (HEC), Julia Rone (SPS) and Liam McHugh-Russell (LAW).
Our four sessions were on:
- Session 1 (October 2nd) – Classics of Neoliberal Thought (Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Gary Becker)
- Session 2 (late October) – Political/Materialist Approaches (e.g. David Harvey, Ha Joon Chang, Gareth Stedman-Jones)
- Session 3 (mid November) – Idealist/Cultural Approaches (e.g. Wendy Brown, Michel Foucault, Dardot & Laval)
- Session 4 (early December) – Contested Institutions of Market Rationality