Introduction: Language, Social Order, and Neoliberal Violence

  • Vicente BerdayesEmail author
  • John W. Murphy
Part of the International Perspectives on Social Policy, Administration, and Practice book series (IPSPAP)


This book examines neoliberal economics as a form of violent radicalism. The orienting framework is a focus on neoliberalism as a discourse whose assumptions and influence on contemporary institutions normalize violence. In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the term “radicalism” has become a signifier of global terrorism. For a variety of commentators, terrorism can only be understood in reference to violent acts that remain unthinkable to normal human beings. Yet, the violence associated with overtly political or religious extremism is only a small component of contemporary violence. In their everyday lives, people are subjected to routine, widespread, and equally radical violence associated with the economic theses of neoliberalism. Understood as the complete reorganization of social existence in pursuit of narrow economic interests, neoliberalism normalizes ideas and behavior that would appear obscene outside of an economistic frame of reference. The antisocial imagery propagated by this market-based extremism, for example, vindicates the existence of profound social inequalities that consign billions of people to supposedly deserved squalor. Yet, such ideas often pass as unquestioned verities among elite decision-makers, theorists, and commentators and indeed can be brought up for discussion as if their catastrophic impact on the world’s peoples were only abstract policy issues. Even more striking, some of those most hurt by neoliberal policies, for instance, working-class people whose unionized jobs once guaranteed them stable, middle-class lifestyles, are sometimes the most vociferous champions of economic extremism, interpreting such policies as expressions of “freedom” and “liberty.”


Neoliberalism Violence Alienation Economism The market Community 


  1. Althusser, L. (1969). For Marx. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  2. Arendt, H. (1970). On violence. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  3. Barthes, R. (1988). Image-music-text. New York: Noonday Press.Google Scholar
  4. Baudrillard, J. (1980). The logic of practice. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Baudrillard, J. (2009). Fatal theories. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Bell, D. (1976). The cultural contradictions of capitalism. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  7. Benjamin, W. (1969). Illuminations. New York: Schocken Books.Google Scholar
  8. Bourdieu, P. (December, 1989). The essence of neoliberalism. Le Monde Diplomatique [English Edition]. Accessed 4 Dec 2002.
  9. Casparius, R. (2013). La ausencia de cariño. La Opinión, 20 de enero.Google Scholar
  10. Collins, R. (1974). Three faces of cruelty: Towards a comparative sociology of violence. Theory and Society, 1(4), 415–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Foucault, M. (1983). Preface. In G. Deleuze & F. Guattari (Ed.), Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  12. Fromm, E. (1941). Escape from freedom. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, Inc.Google Scholar
  13. Fromm, E. (1955). The sane society. New York: RinehartGoogle Scholar
  14. Gehlen, A. (1988). Man and his nature and place in the world. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Herzberg, F. (1973). Work and the nature of man. New York: New American Library.Google Scholar
  16. Hinkelammert, F. (1991). El Capitalismo al Desnudo. Bogotá: Editorial Búho.Google Scholar
  17. Kozol, J. (2005). The shame of the nation: The restoration of apartheid schooling in America. New York: Crown Publishers.Google Scholar
  18. Marcuse, H. (1964). One dimensional man. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  19. Marx, K. (1973). The economic and philosophic manuscripts. New York: International Publishers.Google Scholar
  20. Murphy, J. W. (2012). Contemporary social theory: Key themes and analysis. New York: Nova Science Publishers.Google Scholar
  21. Newman, K. (1993). Declining fortunes: The withering of the American dream. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  22. Perrow, C. (1972). Complex organizations. Glenview: Scott, Foresman and Company.Google Scholar
  23. Pollner, M. (1991). Left ethnomethodology: The rise and decline of radical reflexivity. American Sociological Review, 56(3), 370–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Sartre, J.-P. (1959). No exit, and three other plays. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  25. Sartre, J.-P. (1994). Being and nothingness. New York: Gramercy Books.Google Scholar
  26. Serrano, A. C. (1995). Los Dilemas de la Democracia. Managua: Editorial Hispamer.Google Scholar
  27. Wrong, D. (1961). The oversocialized conception of man in modern sociology. American Sociological Review, 26(2), 183–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of CommunicationBarry UniversityMiami ShoresUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA

Personalised recommendations