Primacy of the Economy, Primacy of the Political: Critical Theory of Neoliberalism

  • Bob JessopEmail author


Neoliberalization is a distinctive economic, political, and social project that promotes profit-oriented, market-mediated accumulation as the primary axis of societalization. This might suggest that neoliberalism promotes the primacy of the economic but, since its extension and reproduction require continuing state support and, indeed, involve what Weber called political capitalism, one might also argue that it entails a primacy of the political. To address this paradox, my article offers a baseline definition of neoliberalism and identifies four ideal-typical historical forms thereof; relates neoliberalism to the world market, geopolitics and global governance; disambiguates the primacy of the economic; and addresses the role of the political in promoting neoliberalism and handling its contradictions and crisis-tendencies. It illustrates this exercise in critical theory from the North Atlantic Financial Crisis and how its (mis)management has strengthened the neoliberal project, enabled its main promoters and beneficiaries to escape the need to learn from their mistakes, and even enabled them to further enrich themselves.


Critical theory political economy critique of neoliberalism finance capitalism finance dominated accumulation primacy of the economy primacy of the political 


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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyLancaster UniversityLancasterGroßbritannien

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