Neoliberalism is a political philosophy based on the principles of free markets, individual choice, and small government. Governments in many parts of the world have selectively embraced these principles since the 1980s, though few would explicitly describe themselves as neoliberal. Always controversial, neoliberalism is a critic’s term referring to a widespread pattern of market-oriented ideas, policies and practices.
Dr. Jamie Peck, Canada Research Chair in Urban and Regional Political Economy, is exploring the dynamics and contradictions of neoliberal policy development across a range of locations, networks and fields.
As a governing philosophy, neoliberalism favours deregulated markets, lower taxes, privatization and restraints on public spending. It is generally promoted as good for business, competitiveness and efficiency, even though the results of neoliberal interventions have been mixed at best—and damaging for social cohesion, economic security and environmental sustainability at worst. Many believe that neoliberal policies were behind the financial crisis of 2008, and that they continue to inhibit social investment. Even so, neoliberalism has proven to be a resilient mode of governance.
Peck is focusing on research projects in two areas: first, the long-term outcomes of so-called “austerity” programs for cities, which usually involve financial discipline and the reorganization of municipal governments; and second, the restructuring of labour-market regulation at the subnational scale, including the revival of “right to work” legislation and similar forms of “flexibility” policies.
His research will help decision-makers understand the evolution and limits of market-oriented policies and their impact on cities and regions.