“Geography and Public Policy: Constructions of Neoliberalism” by J. Peck
In this article, the author argues how neoliberalism evolved and became the predominant ideological engine behind most economic regimes of Western societies since the early 1970s. Throughout the article, Peck notes the common associations attached to the neoliberal model, yet he is constantly underscoring the hybrid relationships these models possess as neoliberal practices are socially constructed and mutually constituted by the unique political framework it works under.
Peck emphasizes how the ‘neoliberal –project’ is multidimensional and complex as it has operated differently -or rather transitioned differently- in different parts of the world. Softer transitions in post Keynesian states and harder ones such as the ones externally driven to some countries in a post communist era, pose many challenges to ...view middle of the document...
He expands this idea to frame neoliberalism as transnational process (not as an agent) in a setting of imminent economic globalization where the state plays a key role in regulating, managing, and policing the market relations. The author constantly stresses the importance of “adding content” to the neoliberal narratives as there are always more “meaningful part-whole connections between localized and institutionally specific instances of reform and the wider discourses and ideologies of neoliberalism” (p.396).
On the other hand, Peck identifies some of the new state spatialities that have emerged in the neoliberal era. He notes that the neoliberal globalization and its inherent fluid production networks have broken the vertical hierarchical mold of the state. In other words, what used to be “vertical topographies of power” governed by the state have been disrupted as transnational global capital and information flow change the spatial frontiers and inherent power relations and jurisdictions of the government (hence the shift to less government and more governance).
Additionally, Peck evokes how neoliberalism was adopted by other countries around the world through imposed means of structural adjustment after respective economic crises. Inflation and overvalued currencies in countries like Thailand or Argentina in the decade of the 70s, made these countries dependent on international monetary funding agencies such as the World Bank where credit loans would be granted with the condition to abide to “widespread privatization and deregulation, public-sector austerity and the opening of markets to international competition and foreign corporations” (p.399).
Lastly, the author points out some of the roots behind the neoliberal ideology, noting the multiple intellectual strands that have influenced it in its evolution. He draws on examples from the Chilean experience to illustrate how neoliberalism “has a strong appeal to the affluent, globally-integrated, consumption-intensive, modern elite”; and how it has consequentially increased the class gaps, instigate insecurity, provoking more wealth disparities, and social polarization.