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This chapter is unusually long and might be best thought of as being made of three subchapters, all of which help explain the ideas that animate this book. In considering how you might use this chapter, it might be worth thinking about how the sections of this chapter answer different sorts of questions, and they may be of greater or lesser use depending on what you’re hoping to get out of the cases. The first section of this chapter (“What Is Neoliberalism”) explains what the authors and editors mean by “neoliberalism” and develops the specific idea of “market imperialism” to explain what exasperates the authors and editors. The second section (“The Problematic Theoretical Underpinning of Market Imperialism”) presents and critiques the arguments that undergird advocates of market imperialism. The final section (“Conclusion: Network of Thinkers and Art of Government”) explains how neoliberalism and market imperialism can operate even though individual people may not explicitly see themselves as advocates of neoliberalism and market imperialism. This last section also summarizes some common attributes of market imperialism and neoliberal thinking.
Healthcare is a wonderful, tragic case of the limits of individual capacity in making consumer choices. Often health and medical decisions are so complicated, so expensive, and have consequences so far in the future that it is practically impossible for ordinary individuals to make informed choices about their medical priorities. Given this, it is a natural reach for expert help (i.e., doctors), and the hand of government regulation (in the form of national insurance schemes). Here, Gersel, Souleles, and Thaning look at two national healthcare systems (Switzerland and the United States) that make use of market-based and for-profit mechanisms to provide healthcare. The crucial difference between them is that the United States remains wedded to the idea that individuals can and should make their own informed choices about their care (see pp. 32–36). In contrast, Switzerland has put a hard limit on what can reasonably be expected of individual choice in healthcare provision and has enacted a number of mandatory regulatory guardrails. It should come as no surprise, at this point in the case book, that citizens are taken better care off in the system that actually recognizes limits to individual consumptive behavior in healthcare, rather than sticking to the presumption of the hyper-intelligent Homo-economicus. It turns out we can in this case predict what people need, better than they themselves can through their purchases in an open market (see pp. 38–44).
This chapter introduces the reader to the volume. It presents our conviction that there is a bias toward pro-market, pro-capitalist (which we call “neoliberal”) solutions in how people solve problems nowadays, and how people learn to solve problems in universities. We explain what these default neoliberal biases are, and why they are often harmful. We also explain how the case chapters in this book comparatively lay out a series of alternatives to these neoliberal ways of solving problems.
This innovative volume presents twenty comparative case studies of important global questions, such as 'Where should our food come from?' 'What should we do about climate change?' and 'Where should innovation come from?' A variety of solutions are proposed and compared, including market-based, economic, and neoliberal approaches, as well as those determined by humane values and ethical and socially responsible perspectives. Drawing on original research, its chapters show that more responsible solutions are very often both more effective and better aligned with human values. Providing an important counterpoint to the standard capitalist thinking propounded in business school education, People Before Markets reveals the problematic assumptions of incumbent frameworks for solving global problems and inspires the next generation of business and social science students to pursue more effective and human-centered solutions.
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