Education, neoliberalism, and human capital

Homo economicus as ‘entrepreneur of himself’

Authored by: Michael A. Peters

The Handbook of Neoliberalism

Print publication date:  June  2016
Online publication date:  July  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138844001
eBook ISBN: 9781315730660
Adobe ISBN: 9781317549666


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Neoliberalism is a changing dynamic phenomenon crystalizing as an idea and ideology in the inter-war period, becoming internationalized and institutionalized as a credo for the Mont Pelerin Society (originally the Acton-Tocqueville Society) in 1947, and a set of policies in the service of economic liberalism with the ascendancy to power of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in 1979–80 to develop as the supreme reigning economic paradigm of the major world policy agencies and the Western world-view in the last 35 years (Peters 2011). It has demonstrated its remarkable capacity for survival in light of world events, even strengthening its dominance after the global financial crisis (GFC). Against the grain of core ideological beliefs, neoliberal officials and politicians intervened directly in the market using vast amounts of public money to bail out struggling banks on the basis of the slogan ‘too big to fail’. Some critics suggested that this central contradiction did little to injure the policy status of neoliberalism. Indeed, financialization and the growth of finance capitalism that led to the global financial meltdown were largely a result of the repeal of financial regulation, especially the so-called Glass–Steagall Act in 1999 that had originally limited commercial bank securities activities’ and affiliations.

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