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Lecture Videos

Lecture Videos

Is Neoliberalism Over? by Monica Prasad

We are pleased to present our CSES Lecture Series on April 17th, 2014 at Cornell University from 4:30 to 6PM in the A.D. White House, Guerlac Room. Monica Prasad presented her research “Is Neoliberalism Over?”

Abstract

By neoliberalism I mean a set of policies built around a faith in the free market, and a strong distrust of state intervention. In the United States, we have witnessed a rise in policies of this sort in the last three decades, starting with the presidency of Ronald Reagan. In his first inaugural address Reagan said quote “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem”; in his lighter moments, Reagan’s joke was “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” Reagan’s anti-government approach to government has been a stable presence in American politics ever since. We saw it catch fire again under the presidency of George W. Bush, and we have seen it flare up most recently in the rise of the Tea Party. But there are reasons to wonder whether this era of American neoliberalism might be drawing to a close. For example, nearly half of the American public now holds a negative image of the Tea Party and its extreme anti-government stance, compared with only a third who view it favorably. And Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, and they hold one house of Congress today partly thanks to gerrymandering. So, has this era of American history come to a close? Is neoliberalism over?

About the Speaker

Monica Prasad’s areas of interest are economic sociology, comparative historical sociology, and political sociology. Her book The Politics of Free Markets (University of Chicago Press, 2006) won the 2007 Barrington Moore Award from the American Sociological Assocation’s (ASA) section on comparative and historical sociology. Prasad has also published an edited volume on the sociology of taxation, co-edited with Isaac Martin and Ajay Mehrotra, called The New Fiscal Sociology: Taxation in Comparative and Historical Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2009). Her most recent book is The Land of Too Much: American Abundance and the Paradox of Poverty (Harvard University Press, 2012), which has received three awards, including the 2013 Barrington Moore Award and the Viviana Zelizer Award from the ASA section on economic sociology. Prasad is the recipient of several awards including a Fulbright to the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris in 2011 and a Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies also in 2011. She received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award in 2009. With this funding, she and project manager Elisabeth Anderson are conducting a cross-national and longitudinal study of the relationship between income tax progressivity and welfare state spending. Prasad’s most recent book The Land of Too Much develops a demand-side theory of comparative political economy to explain the surprisingly large role of the state in the United States, its origins in the 19th-century revolution in agricultural productivity, and its consequences for undermining a European-style welfare state and leaving U.S. economic growth dependent on “mortgage Keynesianism.” She is currently researching a book manuscript on the Reagan-era tax cut of 1981 and conducting investigations into several aspects of taxation and development with graduate students.

“[T]he challenge is to specify and explicate the social mechanisms determining the relationship between the informal social organization of close-knit groups and the formal rules of institutional structures.”— Victor Nee