Rethinking neoliberalism, rethinking social movements

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Abstract

Social movement scholars have not satisfactorily engaged with the concept and reality of neoliberalism. The growing academic consensus is that neoliberalism is a waning analytical category devoid of conceptual rigor, and therefore, inadequate for academic use. At the same time, research on neoliberalism repeatedly confirms the centrality of organized collective action in its ascent to global hegemony. Blurring the artificially constructed boundaries between politics and the academy, I propose an actor-centered approach to neoliberalism, shedding light on the mechanisms driving the term’s conceptual stretching and its exclusive usages by its political and intellectual foes. But I also probe social movement theory with the case of neoliberalism, understood as a peculiar type of movement: a transnational movement of market-fundamentalist intellectuals that, interestingly, relentlessly refrained from collectively asserting an ‘identity’. This makes neoliberalism a case ill-suited to canonical ways of describing social movements. Hence, my aim is to rethink not only neoliberalism but also to stretch a bit what we think movements are.

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APA

Chouhy, G. (2020). Rethinking neoliberalism, rethinking social movements. Social Movement Studies, 19(4), 426–446. https://doi.org/10.1080/14742837.2019.1697663

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