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The Neoliberal Society and Economy Essay

Neoliberalism is the sphere of political economy, sociology and philosophy. This stream first appeared in the 1930s. Neoliberalism has reached the peak of its popularity in the 80s and 90s. The doctrine of neoliberalism was “plucked from the shadows of relative obscurity” by Volcker and Thatcher (Harvey, 2). This doctrine eventually has become the main principle of management and the base of all economic theories. Neoliberalism is directed by the rules of protectionism, which underline that the best and most advanced well being of humans can be achieved through liberating individual entrepreneurship and encouraging the skills of building own independent financial happiness that is based on the freedoms and desires of every person. Neoliberals see the role of the government and the state in creating the best conditions suitable for further development of the individuals and maintaining the safety net of frameworks in order to preserve and stabilise such practices and provide better opportunities.

This means that multiple layers and aspects of the political structure in the country must be directed at the protection of individual entrepreneurial freedoms. The structures of the state that carry these responsibilities are military, police and legal structures. The rights of private property have to be protected, and the quality and integrity of monetary streams have to be supported. This policy is encouraged to be applied to all kinds of markets. The state is also responsible for the creation of new markets, the establishment of the ones that did not exist before and the development of the active markets. It also has to be mentioned that there are restrictions directed at the state’s and the government’s ability to create interventions into the financial markets of the country. The governmental participation in the processes happening in the markets has to be minimised.

From the beginning of the 70s, this practice started to gain popularity, and the government intervention into the markets started to be gradually withdrawn by means of privatisation. Neoliberalism started to conquer all the world’s countries quickly. The Western European countries were the first ones to embrace such practice; the process went slower in the countries with old-fashioned and social-democratic political courses, these are the countries that had to re-establish their economic independency and strength due to various factors. For example, the states that gained their independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union or the countries of Africa that were in the process of recovery from apartheid.

Neoliberalism has created a significant impact not only on the countries’ markets and economies but also on their social conditions. Various new happenings began on the level of public opinion and way of thinking of the citizens of neoliberal states. The systems of values were altered, and the perception of money and labour was changed. This is the age when information started to be seen as one of the most powerful forces in the world and owning information meant having more opportunities for financial development. The main principle of neoliberalism expects the encouragement of market transactions in order to improve the social good. To achieve that, all efforts, forces and available technologies have to be concentrated on the development of the market domain.

Saskia Sassen is the work called “Globalisation or Denationalisation?” presents the processes of neoliberalism from the point of view of social sciences (2). The issues of neoliberalism have penetrated many levels of political, economic and social life and created serious influences on the lives of people. The processes of globalisation and the spreading of neoliberalism work together, they feed on each other and reinforce each other. Globalisation is known as the force that moves the information around, pushes through financial capitals, erases borders between countries, makes people mobile, encourages the mutual penetration and assimilation of nations.

In “Globalisation or Denationalisation?” Sassen explores the concept of “national” and raises the question of how much the meaning of the nation changed due to the processes such as globalisation empowered by neoliberalism. Before the mass migrations in society started to occur before the nations started to mix together and influence each other’s traditions and ways of living, the concept of the nation was quite clear. One could easily explain the special features of various nations, their lifestyles. Nations used to have things, traits and characteristics of their own. These days many of these things such as markets, currencies, languages, foods have become common all around the world. Even the appearances of people stopped being typical. In the contemporary world, there are multinational countries, which do not even have a kind of description for a typical citizen.

Yet, it is a well-known fact that the process of globalisation and neoliberal views continue to work and create the impacts, so the process keeps on moving. Sassen sees the importance of this process and tries to examine the effects it makes on people and predict the future tendencies and results of it because geographically and socially globalisation does not have limits or borders.

Eric Hobsbawm, in his work called “On Empire: America, War and Global Supremacy” touches a global tendency towards urban life and erases the features that were so typical for the world of the past. The author notes that humans used to be rural species, and over eighty per cent of the population of our world used to live in village areas as peasants (Hobsbawm, 38). The transformation started in the 1900s, and by modern times, it has developed a dizzying speed. The metamorphoses that happened in our society are massive. Not only the people’s lifestyles and occupations changed, but their education also changed, the whole meaning of the word “work” has changed, the circulation of information in the contemporary world huge, the amount of knowledge an average modern person has to learn is constantly growing.

Compared to the past, our world is moving with the super speed, and processes like globalisation are trying to speed it up even more. Hobsbawm also mentions that under the influence of processes like neoliberalism, encouraging the development of massive financial capitals resulting in the occurrence of large global corporations creating a big influence on the world’s economies makes these economies almost impossible to control for their national governments. This is the point that Hobsbawm shares with Sassen, the question of the meaning of the national. Can global corporations still be considered as national if they are involved in co-dependencies with the rest of the world? The occurrence of global corporations encourages the migrations, as massive work facilities, global companies create huge labour markets and involve people from various counties, hire foreigners, enforce immigrations and national mobility.

Robinson analyses Saskia Sassen’s opinions and his work “Saskia Sassen and the Sociology of Globalisation: A Critical Appraisal” and finds that neoliberal views on markets and their development influence the migration processes directly through maintaining the success of global corporations and the pools of potential emigrants they create (9). The experts are bothered by the changes our global society undergoes and how these changes are going to twist the economic situation. For example, Hobsbawm notices that Asian economies in the modern world started to develop so quickly and became so strong that they might alter the balance of financial powers in the near future.

The processes destabilising and weakening the economy of the United States have been creating a lot of tension in the world. Finally, after the events of 9/11, which shocked the whole world, the new imperialistic movements started to gain strength (Mann, 5). After what happened on 9/11, the United States immediately got sucked into the multiple processes, in which they would not have any interest otherwise. The ghosts of terrorism started to emerge in various places and sending the troops to these countries became America’s standard reaction, even though it was unclear how exactly all of these terrorists related to the United States. Mann argues with Hobsbawm’s thought that war for a Motherland is quite impossible in the modern world due to massive global influences. At the same time, Harvey adds that neoliberal thought that individual freedoms are guaranteed by the free market has been dominating the American attitude towards the rest of the world (7). This opinion supports Mann’s point of view.

Harvey explains the appearance of neoliberal tendencies in the world. The post-war period has set certain types of moods in the world’s society. The horrors of the massive battlefields that most countries were turned into were feared by the politicians. This is why all kinds of measures were started in order to prevent another armed conflict from disrupting. The geopolitical rivalries, dangerous demonstrations of power and the fight for the influences had to be stopped. Some states started that process by making sure of establishing peace and balance within their own borders. This is why they began to seek for the compromise between the labour and capital (Harvey, 10).

The social scientists of that time have noticed that both communism and capitalism did not work out in their raw forms, this is why certain changes and alterations had to be performed, both theories had their advantages and disadvantages, and the sociologists started to work on new and improved schemes of economic and social management in the state that would keep the advantages of the previous systems and carry more useful and empowering functions. This process was employed though the co-operation of global organisations such as IMF and World Bank designed to achieve the stabilisation in the sphere of international relations.

This started the fixed exchange rates for international currency and gold, free trading, the flow of goods. The United States allowed the free flow of their dollar outside of the country and protected this system by its own military power. The only area that remained isolated from the reach of this new system was the Soviet Union standing behind its Iron Curtain. As a result, of the spreading of this system, many states started their ways towards the neoliberal society and economy.

Works Cited

Harvey, David 2005, A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Web.

Hobsbawm, Eric, 2007. Empire: America, War and Global Supremacy. Web.

Mann, Michael. Incoherent Empire, Brooklyn, New York: Verso, 2005. Print.

Robinson, William, I 2009, . Web.

Sassen, Saskia 2003, . Web.

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IvyPanda. "The Neoliberal Society and Economy." May 23, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-neoliberal-society-and-economy/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "The Neoliberal Society and Economy." May 23, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-neoliberal-society-and-economy/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'The Neoliberal Society and Economy'. 23 May.

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