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Basic Income and the Legitimization Crisis of Neoliberalism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 December 2021

Department of Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson University, Toronto, ON, Canada email:


This article conceptualizes recent momentum for basic income in the context of the legitimization crisis of neoliberalism and the dissolution of the ‘progressive neoliberal’ governing bloc that secured its hegemony for more than two decades. Through an assessment of the ideas of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, it argues that basic income is one of the few policy solutions in the mainstream discourse that improves social welfare and income security, while also remaining consistent with neoliberalism’s inner logic. Accordingly, it holds the potential to temporarily stabilize neoliberalism’s political crisis by offering a consensus issue around which a new centrist coalition could emerge. Although much of the basic income literature has focused on grassroots coalitions and synergies between left and right, it has largely overlooked the emergence of the historical forces that have pushed it onto the mainstream policy agenda.

© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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