Publics and markets: what's wrong with neoliberalism?

Barnett, Clive (2010). Publics and markets: what's wrong with neoliberalism? In: Smith, Susan J.; Pain, Rachel; Marston, Sallie A. and Jones III, John Paul eds. The Sage Handbook of Social Geography. London: Sage, pp. 269–296.



This chapter examines the way in which neoliberalism is conceptualized in human geography. It argues that, in theorizing neoliberalism as `a political project’, critical human geographers have ended up reproducing the same problem that they ascribe to the ideas they take to be driving forces behind contemporary transformations: they reduce the social to a residual effect of more fundamental political-economic rationalities. Proponents of free markets think that people should act like utility-maximizing rational egoists, despite much evidence that they don't. Critics of neoliberalism tend to assume that increasingly people do act like this, but they think that they ought not to. For critics, this is what's wrong with neoliberalism. And it is precisely this evaluation that suggests that there is something wrong with how neoliberalism is theorized in critical human geography.

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