Universities: the neoliberal agenda

Bob Brecher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


The neoliberal attack on universities needs to be understood for what it is: an explicit and deliberate attack on the very idea of knowledge and of human agency in its creation. To understand why in turn requires an understanding of what neoliberalism is, and in particular of how it differs from traditional forms of liberalism. I therefore offer an abbreviated account of neoliberalism, based on Mirowski’s analysis, that situates it in its political context. I emphasize Hayek’s antipathy (however contradictorily expressed) to knowledge, as opposed to information, and thus to the traditional liberal notion of the individual as epistemic agent, before going on to elaborate how and why universities thus cannot but be anathema to the neoliberal project of “engineering the human soul”.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInterrogating the Neoliberal Lifecycle
EditorsB. Clack, M. Paule
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Print)9783030007690
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 30 Jul 2018


  • neoliberalism
  • Universities
  • Mirowski


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