Neoliberalism and Contemporary Capitalism Working Group

The IIPPE Neoliberalism Working Group brings together researchers interested in the material basis of neoliberalism, its national varieties, and alternatives to it. As the contemporary form of global capitalism, 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. This 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. Politically, by insulating markets and transnational investors from popular demands, and through the imperative of labour control to secure international competitiveness, neoliberalism also severely curtails democratic possibilities. This has reduced the scope for ‘autonomous’ economic and 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 resistant to efforts at Keynesian and reformist interventions

The neoliberal transition in the world economy has been closely associated with ‘globalisation’ and with it, new modalities of imperialism. Indeed, 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. Yet despite these global drivers, the neoliberal project has nonetheless reconstituted economic and social relations differently in different countries – rather than being globally homogenising (as often claimed by globalisation’s critics and supporters alike). This calls attention to the national and local specificities of actually existing forms of neoliberalism.

Transcending neoliberalism, meanwhile, requires both economic and political transformations. These demand the construction of an alternative system of accumulation targeted at 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. The development of new forms of political expression and representation by the working class are required in face of a hostile domestic and international environment.

In light of such concerns, 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.

Call for Papers, IIPPE Conference, September 2020, Ferrara, Italy

The working group welcomes contributions in all areas of research related to neoliberalism as outlined above. In 2020 there is also a particular interest in papers which speak to the following specific themes:

  • Recent leftist electoral efforts to break with neoliberalism – and their limits – such as ‘Corbynism’ in the UK and aftermath of the 2019 election.
  • Neoliberalism and its relation to authoritarianism, populism, nativism and nationalism, including the right-wing political and economic coalitions that may attempt to break with neoliberalism.
  • Race and neoliberalism, including the relations between ethnicity, nationality, migration and neoliberal capitalism.

Working Group Coordinators

Alfredo Saad-Filho, King’s College London (

Joanne Tomkinson, SOAS University of London (