Neoliberalism And Urban Governance**

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Neoliberalism and Urban Governance

Neoliberalism and Urban Governance


Neoliberalism is a theory of political economy that contends that free market capitalism is the best, and perhaps only justifiable, basis for political organization. Though often associated in the United States with neoconservativism and Republican Party politics, neoliberalism is a separate movement based in the pursuit of individual economic freedom through the protection of private property, the development of free markets, and the sharp limitation of state power. Since the economic crisis of the 1970s, neoliberalism has taken a place of preeminence, not only in the United States and Great Britain but also in the developing economies of Latin America and Asia. As a theory of political economy, neoliberalism has influenced the ways in which people view their understandings of themselves and their obligations to each other. This entry focuses on the neoliberalism's conceptual history, implications for understanding identity, and criticisms (Nozick 2004, pp. 118).

Issues in Neoliberalism

Neoliberalism has wielded a profound influence on contemporary debates on political economy and public policy, and its ideas have proved vital in foregrounding the importance of creating efficient and fiscally sustainable social programs. In addition, neoliberalism's minimalist approach to public policy seems to be a pragmatic response to the moment of postmodernity, in which the decline of guiding metanarratives has fragmented the moral and ethical consensus necessary to undertake large-scale public projects. Yet, since its inception, neoliberalism has sparked tremendous criticism. Harvey catalogues the charges that have been brought against it: that its strategy of globalization, while achieving mixed results in emerging markets, has succeeded primarily in enriching a small number of global elites, that it has had disastrous effects on the environment, and that its financialization of capital markets has promoted irresponsible speculation and costly bailouts. But beyond these practical concerns, critics of the neoliberal perspective have mounted deeper philosophical challenges that correspond to its emphases on individualism, economic freedom, and the limited state (Hayek 2007, pp. 19).

Untenable Anthropology

Communitarians such as Michael Sandel contend that neoliberalism's emphasis on the individual abstracted from any community ties is a fundamentally untenable anthropology. Communitarians contend that individuals are never as isolated from sustaining social relationships as neoliberalism—or, indeed, liberalism—typically assumes, and that such disregard for the role of community in shaping individual identity has profound social consequences. Harvey notes that neoliberalism's ideal of rugged, competitive individualism has indeed had problematic effects on the societies and cultures where it has taken root, often forcing neoliberalism to embed itself in conservative or nationalistic frameworks—such as U.S. neoconservativism and Chinese nationalism—to reestablish the social ties that it unravels and respond to the anomie that its economic policies create (Harvey 2005, pp. 96).

Economic Freedom over Political Freedom

Harvey notes that neoliberalism's emphasis on economic freedom over either political or civil freedom has often led neoliberals to develop troubling relationships with rogue regimes. Friedman's support of the brutal Chilean dictator Pinochet and the easy relationship between neoliberal ideas and a Chinese regime with a questionable human rights record alarm many critics; even ...
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