The Emergence of the Sovereign Consumer in Post-war Economics

  • Niklas Olsen
Part of the Consumption and Public Life book series (CUCO)


This chapter explores the role and status of the figure of the sovereign consumer in the post-war mainstream discipline of economics from 1945 to 1970. The chapter argues that a figure similar to the neoliberal sovereign consumer was elevated as the key actor in economics during this period. This figure formed part of a new mode of economic analyses that positioned consumer sovereignty as the ultimate social value, reworked the understanding of political democracy by interpreting it through market metaphors, and questioned the role of the state as a collective decision-maker and social planner. As such, so the chapter argues, mainstream economics laid the groundwork for the spread and broader acceptance of neoliberal ideology from the 1960s onwards.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Niklas Olsen
    • 1
  1. 1.SAXO-InstituteUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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