However, nowhere has there been a systematic attempt to understand how these divergent threads are woven together in order to develop a holistic and coherent understanding of the relationship between law and neoliberalism. This volume hopes to initiate such a discussion. The volume does not examine law and neoliberalism as fixed entities or as philosophical categories, however, and its objective is not to uncover or devise ‘the law of neoliberalism’. Nor is this volume about all manner of changes to the discipline of law in the neoliberal period. Instead, it uses empirical evidence to explore and theorise the relationship between law and neoliberalism as dynamic and complex social phenomena. It concerns itself specifically with the role law plays in the neoliberal project. It asks not just what about law has changed but also why, why now, why law, and to what end. The volume explores and advances the following principal arguments. It contends that law takes a particular shape in the neoliberal period that is consistent with, but also more specific than, the liberal-capitalist legal form. It demonstrates that certain aspects of law have enabled it to play a crucial role in conceiving, constructing, and cohering neoliberalism in a way that other social institutions, structures, or sets of norms could not. It illustrates how law fundamentally shapes neoliberalism and argues that neoliberalism should be considered a juridical project, in addition to a political, ideological, and economic one. Finally, it underlines that the relationship between law and neoliberalism is not automatic but presents and embodies contradictions and vulnerabilities in the law and in the neoliberal project that highlight possibilities for emancipatory change. As it constructs these arguments, the volume introduces the concept of ‘neoliberal legality’ to denote the specific form, mode, and role that law assumes in the neoliberal period. This concept builds upon the idea of ‘liberal legality’ which represents the particular historical form law takes in liberal capitalist societies. In this formulation, law is conceived as a system of generalised rules that are interpreted through reason and applied equally to all following rational procedural formalities in a manner void of political concerns and outcomes (Klare, 1979). These ambitious and decontextualising claims to law’s neutrality, equality, and rationality are widely known in critical legal scholarship to legitimise the legal order, but they also foster a particular world view and facilitate certain types of relationships and interactions whilst restricting others. This volume contends that the logic and legitimacy of the legal form have played an active, unique, and essential role in the construction of the neoliberal world order. In this view, it is not only the content of neoliberal law that has helped to create the neoliberal order but also the very fact that law has been used in its creation. It is even possible to speculate that neoliberalism might not have become so powerful, at the current time, or in its current form if liberal legalism had not enjoyed a particular degree of hegemony in the
same moment as the political and economic conditions of neoliberalism occurred. The volume thus argues that neoliberalism must be seen as a convergence of intertwined and mutually influential political, economic, and juridical trajectories. Neoliberalism is as much a juridical phenomenon as a political and economic one, and it is only in understanding the juridical thrust of neoliberalism that we can hope to fully comprehend the specificities (and continuities) of the neoliberal period as a whole.