Encountering Neoliberalism



This chapter identifies Ireland’s most significant encounters with neoliberalism, up until the current crisis. We maintain that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the historical evolution of neoliberalisation processes conforms, to a large extent, to the template laid down in Chapter 2. Those processes have occurred, on one hand, through regulatory restructuring that seemingly ‘prioritizes market-based, market-oriented, or market-disciplinary responses to regulatory problems; it strives to intensify commodification in all realms of social life; and it often mobilises speculative financial instruments to open up new arenas for capitalist profit-making’ (Brenner et al., 2010a: 329–330). Under advanced capitalism these processes are revealed in a wide array of domestic public policies but tend nevertheless to originate regularly from sites beyond the national territory. Thus, as has been the case in other countries, Irish neoliberalisation does not obey the neoliberal theory of removal of the state from the market; rather, it has resulted in the capture and re-use of the state and its institutions for corporate and elite objectives. However, we also contend that neoliberalisation has been extended through other avenues that cannot be described as market-based measures. They include heavy subsidisation of corporations, reforms of the tax structure and rates that benefit capital and the upper classes, tight monetary policy to keep inflation in check, ‘free trade’ agreements that are more about regulatory restructuring than free trade, as well as the establishment and maintenance of a single currency for the eurozone, among other policies. Similar to marketisation, these processes contribute to neoliberalisation’s objective of redistributing power and income upwards.


Foreign Direct Investment Gross Domestic Product International Monetary Fund European Economic Community Free Trade Area 
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Copyright information

© Julien Mercille and Enda Murphy 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of GeographyUniversity College DublinIreland
  2. 2.School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental PolicyUniversity College DublinIreland

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