Simon Springer, Kean Birch and Julie MacLeavy (eds)
The Handbook of Neoliberalism, London: Routledge, 2016; 638pp.: ISBN 9781138844001, 175 [pounds sterling]
'Neoliberalism is a slippery concept, meaning different things to different people' (p. 1). Springer, Birch and MacLeavy's excellently edited volume starts its mission with this nailing definition. Neoliberalism has become one of the concepts that one cannot avoid mentioning in analysing a recent development in social sciences. It is safe to argue that neoliberalism is now a term that is overly used even in partly overlapping and partly contradictory ways (Ferguson 2010: 166). There is not any easy way of defining what neoliberalism is. Is it a state form, or a policy, or a version of governmentality, or an ideology? Or simply, is it an epistemology? Perhaps, because of this nuisance, no scholar has attempted to provide an overview of this powerful but amorphous concept in a volume that engages with multiple registers in which the concept has evolved. However, as the editors of this volume argue, neoliberalism is in need of unpacking because it serves as a way of understanding the transformation of society with new political, economic and social arrangements that emphasise market relations, re-tasking the role of state, and individual responsibility in the last few decades (p. 2). This volume represents the first attempt that contributes to the existing knowledge with an interdisciplinary and global perspective by advancing the established and emergent debates around the concept.
Springer, Birch and MacLeavy's volume successfully collects 53 contributions plus one introductory chapter written by 68 contributors from a variety of disciplines. The book is organised around seven intertwined themes: Origins, Political Implications, Social Tensions, Knowledge Productions, Spaces, Nature and Environments, and Aftermaths. The book aims mostly at academic circles, especially scholars and students. Hopefully, the reader of this review will understand the fact that it is an almost impossible task to compile all fundamental arguments, approaches that are adopted, topics, countries, cases that the volume analyses and then to critically engage with every one of them in a book review in which case the volume consists of 54 chapters written by 68 contributors within seven themes, especially on a nebulous concept like neoliberalism; notwithstanding that the editors already suggested not to read this volume cover to cover, instead to read the most striking bits and then to chart a unique path across chapters to provoke new ideas to come up. Perhaps, this idea serves the fundamental purpose...