- Thinking Like an Economist: The Neoliberal Politics of the Economics Textbook
- Review of Social Economy
- Volume | Issue number
- 72 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Regional, Transnational and European Studies (ARTES)
This article surveys 10 introductory economics textbooks to examine whether and how economics contributed to the rise of neoliberalism. It defines neoliberalism as a political rationality characterized by market constructivism. In contrast with conventional liberal approaches that view limited government as legitimized by the failure of naturalist markets, neoliberalism constructs the market as norm and means of government. Economics textbooks overall have a liberal outlook, as exemplified by Samuelson's classic, however, with three liberal subgenres: the imperfect market view, the free market view, and an institutionalist view. While the introductory textbook cannot be construed as an instruction manual for neoliberalism, the article nevertheless identifies two important neoliberal moments: the discussion of market-based forms of government and the rise of a new genre of principles textbook that urges students to "think like an economist." The article concludes with novel insights on how economics may have contributed to the spread of neoliberalism.
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