Why and how ontology matters: A cartography of neoliberalism(s) and neoliberalization(s)

Karim Knio*

*Corresponding author for this work

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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In this article, I discuss the importance of ontology and its implications, demonstrated in the examples of different approaches to neoliberalism. The lack of careful ontological considerations leads to confusing and often contradictory usages of the term ‘neoliberalism’, obfuscating its usefulness. Instead, I suggest a cartography which consists of integrating two ontological debates - structure-agency and material-ideational - through the interplay between the problematiques of structuration and semiosis, and the operational debate on ideas/interests. In so doing, this cartography can provide readers with various heuristic devices to understand the making of theories, why and how conceptualizations of neoliberalism differ between and within theories and pinpoint the thematic implications of these differences. The translation of this cartography helps to achieve two things, (1) to move beyond the static analyses of neoliberalism and endorse the dynamic understand of neoliberalization processes, (2) to understand why systemic process-based understandings of neoliberalization can create distinctions between analytical understandings of neoliberalism in terms of either the commodification of marketization processes or the marketization of commodification processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-182
Number of pages23
JournalJournal for the Theory of Social Behaviour
Issue number2
Early online date24 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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© 2022 The Authors. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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