Market World

Edward VII, the rotund monarch who didn’t live quite long enough to see the Great War start in 1914, is supposed to have remarked of social reform in his day, “We are all socialists now-a-days”.  If he had lasted another hundred years, he might have changed it to “We are all capitalists now-a-days”.
A well-known socialist
Source: Wikimedia Commons
In our generation, capitalist market ideology – neoliberalism - has become dominant.  Free markets, deregulation, privatisation, user-pays: these are our tunes, and we even call them “reforms”. Taxes down, profits up! Even China, the great red hope of the proletarian revolution, is producing millionaires by the bushel.

Where does this ideology come from?  There’s a familiar origin story: neoliberalism was dreamed up by Professors Hayek and Friedman, spelt out in the Chicago School of Economics, rammed through by Reagan and Thatcher, clamped down on the rest of the world by the IMF and World Bank.
Yes, but... there are reasons to doubt this.  Neoliberalism got a grip on some parts of the global South before Reagan and Thatcher came to power.  Important features of neoliberalism in the developing world don’t correspond to the model circulating in the global North.
Doubt about the origin story is the starting-point for our investigation of neoliberalism as a global issue.  Two papers from this project have just been published.

Pre-publication versions of the papers available HERE

The first is about origins and the shape of neoliberalism on a world scale. Raewyn Connell and Nour Dados, “Where in the World does Neoliberalism Come From?”, Theory and Society, vol. 43 no. 2, 117-138.  Here is the abstract:
Neoliberalism is generally understood as a system of ideas circulated by a network of right-wing intellectuals, or an economic system mutation resulting from crises of profitability in capitalism.  Both interpretations prioritise the global North.  We propose an approach to neoliberalism that prioritises the experience of the global South, and sees neoliberalism gaining its main political strength as a development strategy displacing those hegemonic before the 1970s.  From Southern perspectives, a distinct set of issues about neoliberalism becomes central: the formative role of the state, including the military; the expansion of world commodity trade, including minerals; agriculture, informality and the transformation of rural society.  Thinkers from the global South who have foregrounded these issues need close attention from the North, and exemplify a new architecture of knowledge in critical social science.
The second is an essay for the first issue of a new sociology journal, Social Currents, that has just been launched by the Southern Sociological Society in the United States.  Congratulations to the Society, and the editors, on the launch!
This paper looks at the old question of the relationship between capitalism and patriarchy, in the new conditions of neoliberalism – and thinks about the role of sociology. Raewyn Connell, “Global Tides: Market and Gender Dynamics on a World Scale”, Social Currents, 2014, vol. 1 no. 1, 5-12.  Here is the abstract:
Sociology may be heading for a marginal place in a market-dominated world. If it is to do more, it must address major questions about the social world now coming into existence. One of these is the relationship of gender dynamics to neoliberalism. Neoliberalism has to be understood on a world scale, not just as an export of global-North preoccupations. Older models of the relationship between capitalism and gender, built on systems models of both, need to be replaced in the light of the coloniality of gender. Researchers across the global South are opening up new perspectives on gender and power; new dynamics of change are visible in transnational arenas created by empire and neoliberal globalization.

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