The uses and abuses of ‘neoliberalism’ in modern US history

HOTCUS Winter Symposium, February 16, 2024

25 Gordon Street, room 500

University College London

Popularized by scholars in other disciplines, notably David Harvey and Wendy Brown, the term neoliberalism garnered serious attention from historians comparatively recently. But now it is commonplace to use it as conceptual shorthand for a range of topics, processes, developments, and arguments in US history of the past half century at least. Scholars such as Gary Gerstle have used the term to describe a dominant political order that dominated American politics and political economy between the end of the Cold War and the financial crises of the early twenty-first century.  Yet the usefulness of neoliberalism to explain historical developments remains a point of debate. These points of contention can be about chronology and periodization; the extent to which it encompasses society and culture as well as politics and the economy; and indeed whether the term has much explanatory value at all.

We are delighted to welcome eleven scholars whose work utilizes the concept of neoliberalism in their research. They have been grouped into three panels based on their cognate interests and have been invited to talk about their individual research agendas as part of a wider conversation about neoliberal framings in their larger field of study. In a final plenary session, participants in the symposium are invited to discuss Kim Phillips-Fein’s chapter “The History of Neoliberalism” in Shaped by the State: Toward a New Political History of the Twentieth Century ed. Brent Cebul, Lily Geismer, and Mason B. Williams (Chicago, 2019) as a way of drawing the themes of our discussion together.


9:30-10am – Welcome and coffee

10:00-11:15 – Neoliberalism and its antagonists: from ideas to programmes.

Dan Rowe (Oxford), Elsa Devienne (Northumbria), Daniel Coleman (Cambridge)

11:30-12:45 – Neoliberalism from below: social and cultural perspectives.

Kristian Dekatris (Cambridge), Miriam Scuderi (Mainz), Rob Fitt (Birmingham), Richard Saich (LSE)

12:45-13:30 – Lunch

13:30-14:45 – Neoliberalism, health, and social movements.

Joe Merton (Nottingham), Emma Day (Oxford), Fabienne Muller (Bremen), Alex Riggs (Nottingham).

15:00-16:30 – Plenary session and discussion of Kim Phillips-Fein The History of Neoliberalism.

Registration is £20 for waged academics; £10 for PhD students and unwaged and includes lunch and refreshments. Please register and make payment via this link:

F27 HOTCUS Winter Symposium 2024 | UCL Online Store

Final registration will close on Tuesday 6 February 2024 at 5pm