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Cover Global Political Economy

4. Globalization and neoliberalism  

Jacqueline Best

This chapter evaluates the contested concepts of globalization and neoliberalism, and looks at their role in Global Political Economy (GPE). There are significant debates about the political salience of globalization, with hyperglobalists, sceptics, and transformationalists disagreeing on its implications for the power of the state. Scholars also disagree about when the era of globalization began. Meanwhile, neoliberalism is a set of economic ideas and policies built upon a belief in the ‘free market’ as an unquestionable value in political and economic life. Neoliberal globalization has increased living standards in many parts of the world while also intensifying inequality along the lines of class, race, and gender. At the heart of debates about neoliberalism and globalization are three core puzzles: whether they are primarily depoliticizing or repoliticizing strategies; whether they are best understood by looking at global-level processes or at changes in everyday life; and whether their power is primarily material or ideational.