Neoliberalism Working Group

Neoliberalism is the contemporary form of global capitalism. The neoliberal transition in the world economy is closely associated with ‘globalisation’ and with the onset of new modalities of imperialism. At the domestic level, neoliberal transitions have transformed significantly the material basis of countries as diverse as Britain, the United States, Poland, South Korea, Brazil, South Africa, India and Zambia. These transitions include, but they are not limited to, shifts in economic and social policy. They encompass the transformation of the modalities of economic and social reproduction in different countries and regions, and significant changes in the modes of exploitation and social domination. Broadly speaking, neoliberalism is based on the systematic use of state power to impose, under the ideological veil of non-intervention, a hegemonic project of recomposition of the rule of capital in each area of economic and social life. The exercise of global power is guided by the current imperatives of the international reproduction of capital, with the financial markets and the interests of US capital to the fore. The neoliberal project has, however, reconstituted economic and social relations differently in the context of different countries rather than globally homogenising as has often been claimed by globalisation’s critics and supporters alike.

The political counterpart of these processes is growing limitation on domestic politics by insulating markets and transnational investors from popular demands, and the imperative of labour control to secure international competitiveness. This has reduced the scope for ‘autonomous’ social policies, and led to higher levels of unemployment and job insecurity in most countries than was the case previously. It has also created an income-concentrating dynamics of accumulation that has proven immune to Keynesian and reformist interventions if seriously attempted.

The inability of the neoliberal reforms to support higher levels of investment, growth rates and welfare is proven. The primary purpose of the neoliberal reforms, although presented otherwise, is not to promote faster growth, reduce inflation or even to increase the portfolio choices of the financial institutions. It is to subordinate local working classes and domestic accumulation to international imperatives, promote the microeconomic integration between competing capitals, mediated by finance, and expand the scope for financial system intermediation of the three key sources of capital in the economy: state finance, the financing of domestic accumulation, and the balance of payments. The transfer of the main levers of accumulation to international capital, mediated by US-led financial institutions, and regulated by US-controlled international organisations, has consolidated the material basis of neoliberalism.

Transcending neoliberalism will involve both economic and political transformations that can be addressed only through the construction of an alternative system of accumulation. This project will require systematically dismantling the material basis of neoliberalism through a series of political initiatives, which will support a shift to less unequal distributions of income, wealth and power, as a fundamental condition for democracy. But these policy measures need to be supported by a re-articulated working class, as one of the main levers for its own economic and social recomposition. This virtuous circle cannot be wished into being. Its elements cannot be addressed purely academically, or through the organisation of another vanguard party, or simply through political alliances between existing forces. Development of new forms of political expression and representation by the working class are required in face of a hostile domestic and international environment will need to be confronted.

The IIPPE working group on neoliberalism focuses its attention on:

  • The material basis of neoliberalism, and its social and political consequences.
  • The implications of the neoliberal transition for the reproduction of capitalist relations in specific country contexts.
  • The relationship between neoliberalism and democracy.
  • Strategies to transcend neoliberalism.

Current Members

Kean Birch is an assistant professor at York University, Canada [1]. Previously he worked at the University of Strathclyde and in the Centre for Public Policy for Regions at the University of Glasgow. His current research focuses on the relationship between varieties of neoliberalism and neoliberalisation in regional restructuring, the knowledge-based economy and the emerging biotechnology industry.

Please note: Kean is helping to coordinate the IIPPE neoliberalism working group so please feel free to contact him about joining the working group or suggesting activities to pursue under its auspices.

Patrick Bond is a political economist and research professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the School of Development Studies where he directs the Centre for Civil Society ( Patrick’s recent authored and edited books includeClimate Change, Carbon Trading and Civil Society (UKZN Press and Rozenberg Publishers, 2008); The Accumulation of Capital in Southern Africa (Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, 2007); Looting Africa: The Economics of Explotiation (Zed Books and UKZN Press, 2006), Talk Left, Walk Right: South Africa’s Frustrated Global Reforms (UKZN Press, 2006). Patrick moved permanently to Southern Africa in 1989 following work in the media (Marketplace Radio and Pacifica Radio) and at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC.

Kirsten Besemer is a PhD student at the University of Chester where she is researching the effects of trade liberalisation on South Vietnamese rice farmers. In particular, she is looking at peoples’ knowledge of WTO accession and decisions they are making about crops, children’s education, and the future of their farms. She is interested in both how people perceive WTO accession and how it affects them in economic terms.

Damien Cahill is a Senior Lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Sydney. His research interests include neoliberalism; class; hegemony; and the social foundations of economic processes. He is currently working on a book titled The End of Laissez Faire? Neoliberalism and its Future. He is also editing a volume which brings together different scholarly approaches to understanding neoliberalism, as well as completing a co-authored book linking insights from economic sociology with those of political

Helen Caraveli is an assistant professor at the Department of Economics of the Athens University of Economics and Business (Athens, Greece), teaching agricultural economics, economic geography and urban & regional economics. Her research interests are centred on agricultural and rural development policy of the European Union, the geographic allocation of economic activity and regional inequalities in Greece and other EU countries. She has presented papers in many international congresses, has published a number of articles in books and international journals (e.g. European Review of Agricultural EconomicsJournal of Rural StudiesEnvironment and Planning and Journal of Economic Asymmetries) and has written a book on economic geography (in Greek) entitled: Inequalities, Concentrations and the New Economic

Patrick Clairzier is a professor at the American Graduate School in Paris, teaching current issues in international relations in the undergraduate program. He also works as a consultant for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Paris. Previously he worked in the financial services sector in the United States. In 2009, Patrick received a dual Masters in international relations and strategic negotiation from the American Graduate School in Paris (AGS), and from the Université de Paris-Sud XI. His current research focus includes political and economic mechanisms for countering the current neoliberal hegemonic system.

Judith Clifton is a senior lecturer at the University of Cantabria (Spain) where she has been working with Daniel Díaz-Fuentes for a decade on the privatization of public services (especially Latin America and Europe), and is now interested in the emergence of Transnational Corporations in these sectors (water, energy, communications and transportation). Their latest book on this topic is Transforming Public Enterprise: Networks, Integration and Transnationalization (Palgrave, 2007).

Christine Cooper is a professor of accounting at Strathclyde University. Her research is concerned with the economic, political and social impact of accounting on our everyday lives. This has produced publications in diverse social arenas including social and environmental accounting, gender, privatization, deskilling of accountants and book-keepers, insolvency and accountability.

Kathya Cordova Pozo has a BSc in Business Administration and BSc in Economics (Cochabamba-Bolivia). In 2003, she received her Masters in International and Political Economics from Université de Grenoble 2 (France) where she is currently a PhD student. She also works as a research fellow and project manager in South Group research institute (Bolivia).

Natalie Delia Deckard is a PhD candidate at Emory University and affiliate of the Global Initiative on Civil Society and Conflict. Her research involves the ramifications of neoliberal biopolitics on minority group integration and she is writing her dissertation on carcerality, system avoidance, and the exploitation of children in commercial sex markets. Natalie has been published or is forthcoming in Citizenship Studies, Democracy and Security, and Social Compass.

Daniel Díaz-Fuentes is a professor at the University of Cantabria (Spain) where he has been working with Judith Clifton for a decade on the privatization of public services (especially Latin America and Europe), and is now interested in the emergence of Transnational Corporations in these sectors (water, energy, communications and transportation). Their latest book on this topic is Transforming Public Enterprise: Networks, Integration and Transnationalization (Palgrave, 2007).

Salvatore Drago has a PhD from the University of Messina, where he also undertook postdoctoral research. He has taught at the University of Messina, E-Campus University of Rome, Free University of Bozen, amongst others. He has participated in a number of  research projects in the area of history of economic thought. Since 2013 he has been a Research Fellow at the Centre on Law, Economy and Society.

Kevin Edmonds is a PhD student at the University of Toronto and is affiliated with the Center for Critical Development Studies. His research is focused on the Caribbean, examining the connections between foreign intervention, neoliberalism and the potential for alternative development strategies in the region.

Jesse Goldstein recieved an MA in politics from York University (Toronto). Currently he teaches courses on neoliberalism and on the welfare/workfare state at Baruch College and is pursuing a PhD in sociology at City University of New York. His current research focus is on a cultural and social political economy of waste.

Ali Riza Gungen is a research assistant in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Middle East Technical University of Ankara (Turkey). He is working on the public debt management in Turkey in the last three decades and its relations with the deepening of neoliberalism-financialisation.

Yasin Kaya is a Phd student at York University, Toronto. His dissertation focuses on the political economy of the telecommunications sector in Turkey and South Korea. He received an MA in Political Science and International Relations from Bogazici University, Istanbul.

Thomas Marois is a lecturer of Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. He teaches on the political economy of finance, debt, and development and contributes to lectures on globalization, neoliberalism, capital flows, and privatization. He has published articles critical of neoliberalism in Historical Materialism and the Canadian Journal of Political Science. He is currently working on a book-length manuscript addressing problems in bank ownership, crisis, and finance-led neoliberal strategies of development in Mexico and Turkey.

Michael McKinley is a senior lecturer in global politics in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the Australian National University. In 2007 he completed a major research project involving a comparison between the theories and practices of economics, strategy, religion, and war in the context of the post-Cold War world order – Economic Globalisation as Religious War: Tragic Convergence (2007) which was published by Routledge. His current major projects are (i) a study of the origins, theories and practices of US strategy, and (ii) a critique of proposals that the university-as-institution should become integrally involved with the agencies of the state in counter-terrorism.

Vlad Mykhnenko is a research fellow in the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham where he is working on understanding spatial socio-economic imbalances in Europe. Previously, he has held a research position at the Centre for Public Policy for Regions at the University of Glasgow.

Sebnem Oguz received a PhD from the Department of Political Science at York University, Canada. Right now she is teaching at the Middle East Technical University, Northern Cyprus Campus. In her dissertation, she studied neoliberal state restructuring in Turkey and is now trying to put it in comparative perspective.

Stuart Shields lectures in international political economy (IPE) at Manchester University. He is a ‘lapsing neo-Gramscian’ interested in historical materialist approaches to IPE and particularly the Amsterdam School fractions of capital perspective. Stuart is convenor of the BISA International Political Economy working group, and the CSE Trans-Pennine working group. His research is focused on the neoliberalisation of post-communist states.

Susanne Soederberg is a Canada Research Chair and associate professor in Gobal Development Studies at Queen’s University, Canada. She is author of several books including: The Politics of the New International Financial Architecture: Reimposing Neoliberalism in the Global South (2004), Global Governance in Question: Empire, Class, and the New Common Sense in Managing North-South Relations (2006), and Beyond Corporate Governance: Power and Activism in the Era of Financialization (2009)

Umit Sonmez is a PhD Candidate at the Department of Government, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). His PhD work focuses on political economy of energy in Britain and Turkey, specifically the liberalization and regulation of electricity and gas markets in two countries. He received his MS Degree in Politics from Middle East Technical University (METU), Ankara, Turkey. His thesis was on the development and spread of independent regulatory agencies in many countries after 1980s as a part of the neoliberal project dominant in the global sphere. He had his BS Degree from the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at METU as well. Umit has also been Research Assistant at the European Institute, LSE since 2008.

Stefan Thorpenberg has a PhD in Theory of Science from Gothenburg University and is an associate professor at the Institution of Research Politics at Lund University in Sweden. His research has covered the area of research policy and changes of research politics, as well as science indicators, philosophy of rights and legal relating to changes in the research landscape. Recently he has been working in the area of public health research at the Nordic School of Public Health.

Jörg Wiegratz is a lecturer in political economy of global development at the University of Leeds, School of Politics and International Studies. To-date his research has explored aspects of neoliberal moral restructuring and moral economy, economic fraud, market society, cultural political economy, everyday political economy, global value chains and economic development, predominantly with a focus on Uganda.

Ahmet Zaifer is a PhD student at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the Development Studies department. He is working on the acceleration of the privatization in Turkey over the last decade.

Ongoing/future activities and initiatives


Beaudreau, J. and Clairzier, P. (2009) Neo-Liberal Democracy: A Contradiction in TermsSpectrezine, July 15

Birch, K. (2006) The Neoliberal Underpinnings of the Bioeconomy: The Ideological Discourses and Practices of Economic CompetitivenessGenomics, Society and Policy, v.2 (3), 1-15.

Birch, K. (2008) Neoliberalising Bioethics: Bias, Enhancement and Economistic EthicsGenomics, Society and Policy, v.4 (2), 1-10.

Birch, K., Levidow, L. and Papaioannou, T. (2010) Sustainable Capital? The neoliberalization of nature and knowledge in the European knowledge-based bio-economySustainability 2(9): 2898-2918 [Special issue, Political Economy and Sustainability].

Birch, K. and Mykhnenko, V. (2009) Varieties of neoliberalism? Restructuring in large industrially-dependent regions across Western and Eastern Europe. Journal of Economic Geography, v.9 (3), 355-380. [2]

Birch, K. and Mykhnenko, V. (2010) The Rise and Fall of Neoliberalism: The End of an Economic Order? Zed Books.

Bond, P. (2006) Looting Africa: The Economics of Explotiation. Zed Books and UKZN Press.

Bond, P. (2006) Talk Left, Walk Right: South Africa’s Frustrated Global Reforms. UKZN Press.

Bond, P. (2007) The Accumulation of Capital in Southern Africa. Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.

Bond, P. (2008) Climate Change, Carbon Trading and Civil Society. UKZN Press and Rozenberg Publishers.

Caraveli, E. (2006) Towards a new European rural development model? An assessment of the EU’s Rural Development Regulation in Greece. Economics and Rural Development, v.2 (1).

Caraveli, E., Tsionas, M. and Darzentas, J. (2008) Growth, convergence and the knowledge economy: An empirical investigation. Journal of Economic Asymmetries, v.5 (2), 105-124.

Caraveli, E. and Tsionas, M. (2009) Where in the U-shaped curve is Europe found? An empirical analysis of Centre-Periphery in the EU. Journal of Economic Asymmetries, v.6 (1), 75-88.

Clairzier, P. (2010) The Larger Context of Haiti’s Earthquake. American Graduate School, February 8.

Clifton, J., Comín, F. and Díaz Fuentes, D. (eds) (2007) Transforming Public Enterprise: Networks, Integration and Transnationalization. Palgrave.

Drago, S. (2008) From Periphery to the Center. South Italy, Europe and Ethical Values in Economic Thought of Francesco Saverio Nitti, in Policy and Economy in Francesco Saverio Nitti (edited by F. Barbagallo and P. Barucci), Istituto Italiano Studi Filosofici: Naples.

Drago, S. (2009) The Role of Socio-Ethical Entrepreneurship for the Italian Economic Development in the Twentieth Century: the Case of “Economy of Communion”, in Imprenditorialità e sviluppo economico: il caso italiano (XIII-XX secoli), (edited by F. Amatori and A. Colli), Egea: Milan.

Drago, S. (2010) The Sunset of Capitalism and New World Order. Humanism and Ethics in Oswald Spengler’s Economic Thought, in Humanism and Ethic in the History of Economic Thought (edited by S. Solari and D. Parisi), Franco Angeli: Milan.

Drago, S. (2011) Industry and Faith: The Contribution of Emerico Amari for the Formation of Civil Economy in the Risorgimental Sicily. Storia e Politica 2.

Edmonds, K. (2012) Beyond good intentions: The structural limitations of NGOs in Haiti. Critical Sociology.

Güngen, A. R. (2006) 1980’ler Türkiye’sinde Devletin Yeniden Yapılandırılmasına Dair Yaklaşımlar Üzerine Eleştirel Notlar (Critical Notes on the Approaches to the Restructuring of the State in Turkey during the 1980s). Ercan, F. et. al. (eds.), Türkiye’de Kapitalizmin Gelişimi. Dipnot Yayınları.

Güngen, A. R. (forthcoming) Demokratik Konsolidasyon Kavramı ve Türkiye’de Seçkinci Demokrasi Tartışmasına Katkıları (The Concept of Democratic Consolidation and Its Contributions to the Elitist Democracy Debate in Turkey). Ercan, F. et. al. (eds) ‘Türkiye’de Kapitalizmin Gelişimi. Dipnot Yayınları.

Marois, T. (2008) The 1982 Mexican Bank Statization and Unintended Consequences for the Emergence of Neoliberalism. Canadian Journal of Political Science, v.41 (1), 143-67.

Marois, T. (2005) From Economic Crisis to a ‘State’ of Crisis?: The Emergence of Neoliberalism in Costa Rica. Historical Materialism, v.13 (3), 101-34.

McKinley, M. (2007) Economic Globalisation as Religious War: Tragic Convergence. Routledge.

Shields, S. (2006) Historicizing transition: the Polish political economy in a period of global structural change? Eastern Central Europe’s passive revolution? International Politics, v 43(4), 474-499.

Shields, S. (2008) How the East was won: Globalisation, transnational social forces and Poland’s transition to a market economyGlobal Society, v 22(4), 445-468.

Stuart Shields (2012) The International Political Economy of Transition: Neoliberal Hegemony and Eastern Central Europe’s Transformation, London: Routledge (RIPE Studies in Global Political Economy).

Soederberg, S. (2004) The Politics of the New International Financial Architecture: Reimposing Neoliberalism in the Global South. Zed Books.

Soederberg, S. (2006) Global Governance in Question: Empire, Class, and the New Common Sense in Managing North-South Relations. Pluto.

Soederberg, S. (2009) Corporate Power and Ownership in Contemporary Capitalism: The Politics of Resistance and Domination. Routledge.

Thorpenberg, S. (2005) University Policy and Ideological Shift – On Reversed Reification and Norm System ChangesJournal of Critical Education Policy Studies, v 3(1).

Thorpenberg, S. (2004) Lärarundantag och ägande i den nya medicinska och naturvetenskapliga forskningen – En intervjustudie av forskares rättsuppfattningRetfaerd v106(3), 2-28.

Wiegratz, J. (2010) Fake capitalism? The dynamics of neoliberal moral restructuring and pseudo-development: the case of Uganda. Review of African Political Economy, v.37 (124), 123-37.

Wiegratz,J. (2012) The Neoliberal Harvest: The Proliferation and Normalisation of Economic Fraud in a Market Society, in Winlow, S. and Atkinson, R. (eds) New Directions in Crime and Deviance: Papers from the York Deviancy Conference. London: Routledge.


Bibliography, Neoliberalism Literature 

University of Glasgow, ESRC Seminar Series (2006-2008), Neoliberalism, Anti-Neoliberalism and De-Ideologisation

SOAS, Department of Development Studies, Neoliberalism, Globalisation and States Research Cluster

University of Sydney, Workshop (2010) Contesting Neoliberalism and its Future


RSA Research Network: Varieties of Neoliberalism and Alternative Regional and Urban Strategies, Regional Studies Association Research Network, in association with the IIPPE Neoliberalism Working Group and the FP7 Shrink Smart project.

Workshop 1 (16 June 2010, University of Glasgow) – varieties of regional and urban neoliberalisation.


1st WORKSHOP SCHEDULE, 16th June 2010


Workshop 2 (Leipzig, summer 2011) – alternative regional and urban strategies.

IIPPE 2nd International Conference 20-22 May 2011 [CANCELLED]

Panel Session: Have We Ever Been Neoliberal?

Neoliberalism has become a catch-all term for many ‘bad’ things from loose financial regulations through corporate malfeasance to trade liberalisation. Furthermore, different manifestations and a diverse array of policies, politics and political-economies have been characterised as neoliberal. Consequently there have been a number of attempts to define and delineate neoliberalism theoretically. On the one hand, these attempts have proved conceptually fruitful for understanding the transformative potential and actuality of recent economic restructuring. On the other hand, they have meant that we cannot identify a single form of neoliberalism or neoliberal restructuring; rather we have to identify varieties of neoliberalism or variegated neoliberal restructuring. What these theoretical discussions highlight is a series of ambiguities, tensions and contradictions in the definition of neoliberalism. For example, between the erosion (or even subversion) of the national state and its continuing role in (dis)organising the global economy; between the institutionalisation of monetarism as a state strategy and the need to maintain high public spending and public debt; between the role of the state as lender of last resort and as facilitator of asset price bubbles; and, between the curtailment of real wages in an economy dependent on consumption and rising personal debt alongside a financialised system for welfare (e.g. pensions). How are these issues to be rationalised in light of the theoretical arguments regarding the neoliberalisation of our economies over the last 30-40 years?

We are looking for interested people; e.g. presenters, discussants, etc. Please get in touch with Kean if you would like to be involved.

Recent Conference Presentations

Mykhnenko, V. and Birch, K. (2009) Forging competitiveness, sustaining solidarity? The knowledge-based economy, the Lisbon Strategy and regional disparities in the EU. Royal Geographical Society – Institute of British Geographers Annual Conference, 26-28 August 2009, Manchester.

Siemiatycki, M. and Birch, K. (2010) Varieties of neoliberalisation: Marketisation and public-private partnerships in transport infrastructure. RSA Research Network Workshop, 16 June 2010, University of Glasgow.

Wiegratz, J. (2009) The cultural political economy of embedding neoliberalism in Uganda: an analysis of changes in moral norms and trade practices in the rural economy since 1986. Paper at the Millennium conference: ‘After Liberalism?’, 17-18 October 2009, LSE.

Wiegratz, J. (2010) People, power, practice: a moral economy approach to rural poverty in neoliberal Africa, insights from Uganda. Workshop on Rural Economies in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Global Politics of Local Change, Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Warwick, 14 September 2010.

Wiegratz, J. (2011) The morality of economic malpractice and crime in neoliberal capitalism. British International Studies Association Annual Conference 2011, Manchester, 27-29 April 2011.


To apply to join IIPPE neoliberalism group, email or