The word “neoliberalism,” first used during the 1930s, came into widespread circulation in the 1990s to name a utopian ideology of “free markets” and minimal state interference, a set of policies slashing state social services and supporting global corporate interests, a process (neoliberalization) proceeding in company with procorporate globalization and financialization, and a cultural project of building consent for the upward redistributions of wealth and power that have occurred since the 1970s. But neoliberalism might best be understood as a global social movement encompassing all of these political goals. In American studies and cultural studies, the concept has gathered force as a description of current tendencies in global politics and a critique of those tendencies, even as its meanings have dispersed.

Though the term tends to be used differently across the social sciences and the humanities, there is wide agreement that neoliberalism is a radicalized form of capitalist imperialism, centered …

This essay may be found on page 182 of the printed volume.

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