Against Marketization

How Capitalist Exchange Subverts Democracy and Disciplines Workers

Ian Greer and Charles Umney


How capitalist exchange has disciplined the working class and corroded democracy and how to reverse this process in politics and in everyday life.
How do markets function? Who creates, shapes and organizes them? And what do they mean for the relationship between labor and capital?

Drawing on dozens of conversations with policymakers, administrators, businesses, workers, and trade unionists across many European countries, the authors unpack marketization. They go beyond liberal theories that see markets as natural forms of economic organization and broad-brush left critiques of neoliberalism. They look behind the scenes in the current European political economy, examining the practicalities of how markets are created and manipulated by employers, policymakers and bureaucrats in pursuit of greater profitability. Far from leading to greater freedom, these processes often override the rights of individuals, degrade the status and security of workers, and undermine democratic accountability.

Against Marketization examines how the state and capital use markets to discipline the working class. Greer and Umney work from the top to the bottom of the European political economy, from the European Commission to the workplace, to show how neoliberal principles translate into market mechanisms and reshape the lives of workers.

Author Bio

Ian Greer is a Senior Research Associate at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He worked in Britain from 2006 to 2015 and has been a visiting researcher in Aix-en-Provence, Berlin, Chemnitz, Cologne, Jena, Paris, and Sydney. He has published several peer-reviewed journal articles, as well as The Marketization of Employment Services: Dilemmas of Europe’s Work-first Welfare States, (2017).  

Charles Umney is Associate Professor at Leeds University Business School. He has published several peer-reviewed articles in academic journals such as Work, Employment and Society, Human Relations, British Journal of Industrial Relations, Organization Studies, Capital and Class and others. He also published Class Matters: Inequality and Exploitation in 21st Century Britain (2018).

Table of Contents

  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Healthcare and Marketization
  • 3. Welfare-to-work and Marketization
  • 4. Musicians and Marketization
  • 5. The State, Marketization, and Class Discipline
  • 6. Capital and Marketization
  • 7. How to Fight the Market


Publication Date: 30 September 2021

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781913441463
Hardback: 9781913441456
eBook ePub: 9781913441425
eBook Kindle: 9781913441432

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