ASTK15393U COURSE: Understanding Neoliberalism: introduction to theories of Neoliberalism in IPE

Volume 2015/2016

Elective course in the specialization "International political economy"

Bachelorlevel: 10 ECTS

Masterlevel: 7,5 ECTS


The resurgence of economic liberalism in the period since 1980, remains one of the most central development in the political economy of our time. The turn towards deregulation, privatisations and financialisation of the economy are impacting both discourse and policy in most countries in the world. 

This development means that the concept of neoliberalism is emerging as one of the central notion of international political economy. But it is also a highly contested concept, with a range of different meanings and understanding.


This course provides a critical introduction to main theories of the rise of economic neoliberalism,  including institutionalist, idea-based and marxists approaches, and provides students with  theoretical tools to discuss the political implications of neoliberal hegemony in different fields of international political economy. It will also provide an historical context, comparing and contrasting neoliberalism with the economic liberalism of earlier centuries.

Learning Outcome

At the end of the course the student should be familiar with the main approaches to neoliberalism with international political economy, and be able to critically assess different approaches. Furthermore students should be able to apply these theories to a discussion of contemporary political and economic issues, including European and global political economy, the economic crisis, austerity and financialisation.

This will allow the student to:

The objective of the course/seminar is to enable the students to:

• Describe the historical development of neoliberalism
• Present the key theoretical explanations of neoliberalism
• Compare and analyse the main theoretical explanations of the rise of neoliberalism
• Apply the theories to actual cases
• Discuss the significance of neoliberalism for broader discussions in International Political Economy
• Critically evaluate the validity of the various theoretical arguments.

Indicative literature:

Blyth, M. (2002). Great transformations : economic ideas and institutional change in the twentieth century. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Blyth, M. (2013). Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea. New York: Oxford University Press.

Brenner, N., Peck, J., & Theodore, N. I. K. (2010). Variegated neoliberalization: geographies, modalities, pathways. Global Networks, 10(2), 182-222. doi: 10.1111/​j.1471-0374.2009.00277.x

Chwieroth, J. M. (2009). Capital ideas: the IMF and the rise of financial liberalization: Princeton University Press.
Crouch, C. (2011). The strange non-death of neo-liberalism: Polity.

Dumenil, G., & Levy, D. (2004). Capital resurgent : roots of the neoliberal revolution. Cambridge :: Harvard University Press.

Fourcade, M., & Babb, S. L. (2002). The Rebirth of the Liberal Creed: Paths to Neoliberalism in Four Countries. American Journal of Sociology, 108(3), 533-579.

Friedman, M. (1962). Capitalism and freedom. [Chicago] :: University of Chicago Press.

Harvey, D. (2007). A brief history of neoliberalism: Oxford University Press, USA.

Hay, C. (2001). The "crisis" of Keynesianism and the rise of neoliberalism in Britain: an ideational institutionalist approach. In J. L. Campbell & O. K. Pedersen (Eds.), The rise of neoliberalism and institutional analysis (pp. 193-218). Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Hayek, F. A. (1944). The Road to Serfdom London Routledge and sons.

Lemke, T. (2001). 'The birth of bio-politics': Michel Foucault's lecture at the Collège de France on neo-liberal governmentality. Economy and Society, 30(2), 190-207.

Mirowski, P., & Plehwe, D. (2009). The road from Mont Pelerin: the making of the neoliberal thought collective: Harvard Univ Press.

Mudge, S. L. (2011). What's Left of Leftism? Neoliberal Politics in Western Party Systems, 1945–2004. Social Science History, 35(3), 337-380.

Peck, J. (2010). Constructions of Neoliberal Reason Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Polanyi, K. (2001). The great transformation : the political and economic origins of our time (2nd Beacon Paperback ed ed.). Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Streeck, W. (2014). Buying time - the delayed crisis of democratic capitalism. London: Verso.

Thelen, K. (2012). Varieties of Capitalism: Trajectories of Liberalizationand the New Politics of Social Solidarity. Annual Review of Political Science, 15.


Lectures, seminar discussions, group exercises.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Course Preparation
  • 80
  • Exam
  • 37
  • Exam Preparation
  • 37
  • Exercises
  • 16
  • Preparation
  • 8
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner