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A Research Agenda for Neoliberalism

Kean Birch, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, York University and Senior Associate, Innovation Policy Lab, University of Toronto, Canada
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.
Extent: 208 pp
Hardback Price: $115.00 Web: $103.50
Publication Date: 2017
ISBN: 978 1 78643 358 9
Availability: In Stock
Paperback Price: $34.95 Web: $27.96
Publication Date: 2018
ISBN: 978 1 78897 618 3
Availability: In Stock
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  • Economics and Finance
  • Political Economy
  • Geography
  • Human Geography
  • Political Geography and Geopolitics
  • Politics and Public Policy
  • Political Economy
  • Social Policy and Sociology
  • Sociology and Sociological Theory
Elgar Research Agendas outline the future of research in a given area. Leading scholars are given the space to explore their subject in provocative ways, and map out the potential directions of travel. They are relevant but also visionary.

At a time when neoliberalism has become an accepted term in public debate to refer to the current state of modern societies and their political economies, Kean Birch critically analyses the conflicting theories that shape our understanding of ‘neoliberalism’.

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.

This work will be an essential resource for undergraduate and postgraduate students, scholars, and researchers to critically assess the concept of neoliberalism across many disciplines. The book will also serve as a general introduction to a wider audience interested in the term ‘neoliberalism’, its potential pitfalls, and its contested future.
‘Engagingly written, this book offers a refreshing introduction to the intellectual history of neoliberalism. Offering an explanation of where neoliberal ideas came from, the varying ways in which these ideas have been analysed and used, and the core contradictions in the neoliberal interpretation of contemporary capitalism, it will be of great value to scholars and students alike. At a time when market ascendance is increasingly challenged, it also convincingly shows why neoliberalism cannot serve as a road map for the future.’
– Wendy Larner, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

‘Kean Birch is, in my estimation, one of the most sophisticated thinkers on the subject of neoliberalism, and in this new book we see him push his thought in a bold new direction that challenges some of the foundational discourses that have attached themselves to the concept. This is a timely and vitally important intervention.’
– Simon Springer, University of Victoria, Canada

‘Birch’s book is full of valuable detail and insight. . .  it does an important job of establishing the contours of the discussion of neoliberalism in such a way that anyone reading it will be unlikely to lapse into the lazy straw man forms of commentary which remain all too evident both within and beyond the academy.’
– LSE Review of Books
Contents: 1. Introduction Part I WHAT IS NEOLIBERALISM? 2. An Intellectual History of Neoliberal Thought 3. How to Think like a Neoliberal Part II CURRENT CONCEPTIONS OF NEOLIBERALISM 4. Different Conceptions of Neoliberalism 5. Struggling with Neoliberalism as a Concept Part III A NEW RESEARCH AGENDA FOR NEOLIBERALISM 6. Neoliberalism and the Problem of the Corporation 7. From Entrepreneurship to Rentiership in Neoliberalism 8. Neoliberalism as a Contract-based Order 9. Conclusion