The best books on neoliberalism 📚

Browse the best books on neoliberalism as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time

The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time

By Karl Polanyi

Why this book?

This book showed me the way to alternative understandings of money, from one culture to another, over vast periods of time and space. An extraordinary read. Polanyi influenced a little-known school of economics, yet one that is becoming more and more relevant as our understanding of money is transformed by alt- and cryptocurrencies.

From the list:

The best books that explore what money is, from beginning to Bitcoin

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Book cover of A Brief History of Neoliberalism

A Brief History of Neoliberalism

By David Harvey

Why this book?

This is the book that put “neoliberalism” on the map in contemporary debates. Published years before the Global Financial Crisis, it offers a global and historical perspective on the neoliberal order. I have some questions about Harvey’s definitions—especially his claim that China is a neoliberal country—but no one can beat him for mastery of economic data and trends.

From the list:

The best books for understanding neoliberalism

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Book cover of The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition

The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition

By William Davies

Why this book?

Davies offers an exceptionally clear and useful definition of neoliberalism: “the disenchantment of politics by economics.” But what really makes this book valuable is the research he has conducted on the office culture of the government officials who are actually implementing neoliberal policy—how they think, what they believe they’re achieving, and how they sometimes deviate from the letter of neoliberal theory while remaining true to its spirit.

From the list:

The best books for understanding neoliberalism

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Book cover of Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution

Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution

By Wendy Brown

Why this book?

More than most authors on neoliberalism, Brown takes it seriously as a philosophy and worldview that aims to reshape human society and our individual sense of self. Drawing on classic philosophers like Aristotle, Marx, and Arendt, she argues that neoliberalism is hollowing our sense of what it means to be human by turning us all into hyper-competitive, self-marketing, self-branding drones. I wind up arguing with her a lot in my book, but whether you wind up agreeing or disagreeing with her, she’s an essential point of reference.

From the list:

The best books for understanding neoliberalism

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Book cover of Baltimore Revisited: Stories of Inequality and Resistance in a U.S. City

Baltimore Revisited: Stories of Inequality and Resistance in a U.S. City

By P. Nicole King, Kate Drabinski, Joshua Clark Davis

Why this book?

The history that matters most to me is the history that can help explain the world we live in now. The editors of Baltimore Revisited, a collection of brilliant essays about the city, takes that to heart. Fascinating chapters trace the War on Drugs back to the 1910s, when the city outlawed cocaine, examine how Johns Hopkins University’s growth has displaced Black residents for decades, and surprise us with the fact that Maryland was home to the longest-running movie censorship board in the country (which only closed shop in 1981). More than curiosities, though, these authors reveal how race, gender,…

From the list:

The best books to understand why Baltimore's problems are so hard to fix

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Book cover of Squatting in Europe: Radical Spaces, Urban Struggles

Squatting in Europe: Radical Spaces, Urban Struggles

By Squatting in Europe Kollective

Why this book?

From 2009 to 2021, the Squatting Europe Kollective provided a platform for innovative research on squatting by both academics and activists. The group organized international meetings, created an interactive map of squatter actions in various European cities, and published a number of books. Their 2013 volume provided a state of the art of squatter research. The first chapter distinguishes between different modes (‘configurations’) of squatting; for example squatting as an alternative housing strategy, a strategy for saving monumental dwellings from demolition or squatting as a tactic for confronting neoliberalism. The subsequent chapters zoom into particular issues, such as the ways…

From the list:

The best books on squatting and urban activism

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