Critique as ideology critique in a neoliberal age

Pauline Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neo-liberalism is not working but carries on regardless. A society and all of its institutions modelled on market logics and imperatives has produced system crisis and has lost widespread popular support. To account for neo-liberalism’s continuing grip, we must submit this project to ideology critique. Max Horkheimer offers some relevant insights into what this requires. Ideology critique needs to come up with a competing measure of progress, it has to demonstrate why this ought to be the standard and it needs to expose the means by which this alternative is blocked. This article suggests that the normativity that underpins a social democratic project is best placed to prosecute these key tasks in a neo-liberal and historicizing age. It draws upon two major accounts of the ideological battlefield that has been staked out between neo-liberal and social democratic projects, looking to Wolfgang Streeck and Michel Foucault to identify the cultural resources that are available to, and the blocking strategies that have to be negotiated by, ideology critique in neo-liberal times. Finally it, turns to György Markus’s fine-grained and critical reading of the tasks of ideology critique outlined by Karl Marx. This section puts ideology critique into dialogue with a social democratic normativity in order to better consider the traction of ideology critique in a neo-liberal age.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)810-828
Number of pages19
JournalPhilosophy and Social Criticism
Issue number7
Early online date5 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


  • Foucault
  • ideology critique
  • Markus
  • neo-liberalism
  • Streeck


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