The roots of neo-liberal resilience: Explaining continuity and change in background ideas in Europe's political economy
Schmidt, Vivien A.
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Citation (published version)Vivien A Schmidt. 2016. "The roots of neo-liberal resilience: Explaining continuity and change in background ideas in Europe's political economy." BRITISH JOURNAL OF POLITICS & INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp. 318 - 334. https://doi.org/10.1177/1369148115612792
Neo-liberalism has come to constitute the core background idea of European political economies, as the unquestioned set of beliefs, understandings, or core philosophy exercising a seemingly incontrovertible hold since the 1980s in Europe. Using a discursive institutionalist framework, this article defines background ideas; describes their different forms, levels, and types; theorizes about the nature of continuity and change in such ideas; and considers the agents and discursive processes through which such ideas are constructed and disseminated. It illustrates throughout with examples of neo-liberalism, from the philosophical origins through its many different permutations in different institutional contexts over time. This article concludes that although ‘background ideas’ as a concept remains somewhat elusive, it is nonetheless useful as a way of understanding how neo-liberalism has managed to infuse people’s deepest assumptions about the possible and thereby to set the limits of the imaginable with regard to political economic action.