Identifying The Connection Between Neoliberal
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The following proposal aims to initiate an investigation into the relationship between public policy and societal trends. The current economic strategy prevalent in the United States is neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is based off of the concepts of privatization and free trade. The rise of neoliberalism in the United States corresponds with the domination of the market in the minds of consumers and corporations alike. Neoliberalism exists in favor of integration of markets on a global scale. In doing this, the will of consumers is often abandoned in favor of a path towards economic success. The attempts of consumers to make their voices heard are often overpowered by the will of corporations and the upper class, pushing the economy further into the global market. Keywords: Neoliberalism, economy, political consumerism
Economic policy affects the society which it governs, the opportunities available to those it governs, and the businesses and companies which it affects. The style of economic policy in place in the United States is determined by the philosophy of the governing party and the philosophical trends of society in general. Currently, neoliberalism is the leading philosophy in economic policy. Neoliberalism is a term that refers to the resurgence of 19th century economic liberalism. This sort of economic strategy involves privatization, free trade, and reductions in government spending to increase the role of the private sector in the economy. As explained by Metcalf (2017), the effects of neoliberalist policy are directly connected to the 2008 financial crisis.
Metcalf believes that the rise of neoliberalist ideals in the United States, and the world, signaled that the establishment had conceded its authority to the market. Looking through the lens of neoliberalism, it can be seen that the welfare state and the free market are human inventions. The free market produces a small group of winners and a large group of losers. Currently, those losers have turned to social revolutions such as Brexit and the election of President Trump in the United States. These represent a societal swing against neoliberal thought. Another way for citizens to revolt against the prevailing economic thought is by exercising their power as consumers. According to Ward (2011), evidence suggests that “purchasing products for ethical or political reasons”−also known as political consumerism−may be gaining importance. With the voting rate declining among young people and a general disinterest in the normative political institutions, scholars and political elites alike are speculating on the evolution of citizenship.
Citizens are beginning to believe that lifestyle-based politics as increasingly relevant. These developments point to an interest in understanding political consumerism and its relationship to citizenship. A variation of this view is that the preferences of citizens are only considered by the drivers of economic movement when appropriate. In this context, the political consumer may be seen as “a person that acts in a socially responsible manner through the market, integrating its consumption behavior with its other moral, social, and ethical aspects to human behaviors” (Delacote, 2011, p. 188-193). Political consumerism represents a “decentralized and grass roots reaction” to the actions and trends in the economy at an individual level (Sagoff 2017). However, political consumerism has its drawbacks.
There is no guarantee that consumer trends will be representative of the preferences of the concerned group. Putting to much confidence in political consumerism as an effective means of communicating the will of society would benefit the consumers with higher socioeconomic status and could confound the efforts of those attempting to make change. Neoliberalism urges citizens to think of themselves as proprietors of talents and initiatives, urges us to compete and adapt. Society has been molded into the model of a market, where competition and rational behavior are the new rules. Neoliberalism exists in favor of globalization and the integration of markets across the world stage. In a market that spans the globe, it is impossible for simple citizens to compete with corporations for influence and identity.
Neoliberalism is a shifting concept, without an explicit lobby of defenders. The world has experienced a shift towards favoring the importance of market success over the success of individuals. Much of the contemporary policy discussion remains infused with principles grounded in the concept of “homo economicus”, the perfectly rational human being the success of the economy demands, who always pursues his own self-interest. The looseness of the term neoliberalism also means that criticism of it often misses the mark. Inherently speaking, there is nothing wrong with pursuing economic success, private entrepreneurship, or incentives – when deployed correctly.
The problem lies in the fact that mainstream economics can be idealistic, constraining the choices that we appear to have, and providing generic solutions. However, economies can be derailed by large-scale instability. Neoliberalists are not wrong when it argues that the most cherished ideals of a nation are more likely to be attained when our economy is strong and growing. Where neoliberalists are wrong is in their belief that there is a universal recipe for improving economic performance. Their recipe relies upon the unfounded belief that the individuals supporting the economy are stratified within society in a way that is conducive to the growth of the economy, and that each individual is willing to support a system which may not provide any benefits at an individual level. The flaw in neoliberalist policy is the fact that the success of the economy is prioritized in a way that individuals within society do not benefit from the success.
Neoliberal economic and social performance has been poor, and any alternative to neoliberalism must display economic superiority to neoliberalism and establish the means of how to achieve its goal. It is hypothesized that the solution to the economic inequality created by neoliberal policy is new policy created with the aim of supporting the growth of small business and aiding its competition in the marketplace.
I am going to test my hypothesis using the following questions:
- How has neoliberal policy effected society?
- How has neoliberal policy changed the structure of society?
- How and why did neoliberalism gain traction in the United States?
- What are potential solutions to the negative effects of change brought about by neoliberal policy?
Research Areas I am going to pose my questions in the following areas of study:
- Public Policy
- Delacote, P., & Montagné-Huck, C. (2011). Political consumerism and public policy: Good complements against market failures?. Ecological Economics, 73, p. 188-193. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.10.020
- Metcalf, S. (Aug. 2017). Neoliberalism: The idea that swallowed the world. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/aug/18/neoliberalism-the-idea-that-changed-the-world
- Rodnik, D. (Nov. 2017). The fatal flaw of neoliberalism: It’s bad economics. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/nov/14/the-fatal-flaw-of-neoliberalism-its-bad-economics
- Sagoff, M. (2017). The Economy of the Earth: Philosophy, Law, and the Environment. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press
- Ward, J., & Vreese, C. de. (2011). Political consumerism, young citizens and the Internet. Media, Culture & Society, 33(3), 399–413. https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443710394900