A decade ago, in their article on ‘variegated neoliberalization’, political geographers Brenner, Peck and Theodore proposed what has become one of the leading theoretical conceptualizations of neoliberalism. By developing a process-based account of neoliberal transformations, they successfully trace neoliberalization across geographies and temporalities, accounting for both its systemic and contingent qualities. In this paper, I suggest that the variegated neoliberalization approach would benefit from contributions made by the French Régulation school, particularly those that introduce the institutional complementarity/institutional hierarchy as crucial components for understanding institutional configurations of diverse capitalist economies. Namely, I point to the fact that shared institutional hierarchies underpin different regimes of accumulation (e.g. Fordist, neoliberal), allowing us to study patterns of accumulation despite evident variation across contexts. By drawing on these insights, it becomes possible to deepen our understanding of the patterned structural traits preceding the onset of neoliberalization and how they shape various courses of institutional differentiation, thereby taking the variegated neoliberalization framework one step further. In the final section, I sketch the neoliberalization of two cities – New York and Johannesburg – to illustrate how legacies of preceding institutions played a role in generating differential neoliberal landscapes.
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© The Author(s) 2019.