Neoliberalism & Notion of Exploitation Term Paper

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As a result, to not totally lose out to Vietnam and China, other countries are competing by extending their operations 24/7 without further adjustments to the current government-mandated wages of their workers. Competition remains, as Vietnam and China can deliver like the other countries, but with significantly lower wages. Looking at the bottom line, only the workers suffer and are greatly exploited as a result of this competition among Asian countries, as investors pursue the country with the cheapest source of labor.

The individual's (worker's) market-class situation

It is inevitable, then, that with the widening and increased immobility of social space and maximized labor time inherent in neoliberalist economies, that the individual is given no choice but to assume an individualist stance and fiercely compete in order to survive the new socio-economic environment s/he lives in. Bourdieu (1998) criticized neoliberalism because of these inherent forms of exploitation, resulting to the alienation of the individual/worker, as s/he competes alone and against his/her own community / society:

…the immediately visible effects of the implementation of the great neoliberal utopia… First is the destruction of all the collective institutions… primarily those of the state, repository of all the universal values associated with the idea of public realm [sic]. Second is the imposition everywhere…of that sort of moral Darwinism that, with the cult of the winner…institutes the struggle of all against all and cynicism [sic] as the norm of all action and behavior.

Because the individual develops the psyche of being highly competitive and assuming the attitude of "all against all," the power of the society is highly reduced, as society acts as divided, individual agents in pursuit of their own, rather than unified, interests. The lack of unity or collectivist nature of societies under a neoliberalist economy brings more power to the leading and dominant few. As a result, economies are dictated and determined only among these small group of individuals / decision-makers, ultimately serving their own agenda and interests. In the realm of neoliberal economy, the worker as an individual and member of the society loses his/her role and significance, and becomes an instrument and mere contributor rather than significant mover of the economy.

Perhaps most relevant example to illustrate the worsening of the individual's class or market situation is his/her relegation as mere consumer in the wide and international landscape of free market and enterprise. Supposedly, consumers wield a strong influence and power over companies and corporations, as they determine which companies truly cater to the consumers' needs, and which do not deliver or perform at all. Unfortunately, because of the strong influence of the companies in the world market, the individual is just a small voice whose opinion does not matter and does not influence the way economies regulate themselves. This is the reason why consumer groups are formed, a display of unity wherein collective power is created and a stronger voice is used to inform the world market about non-performance, mediocrity and inefficiencies of specific companies/corporations.

The worsening of an individual's class or market situation is not just determined by the power that they have over companies/corporations thriving under the neoliberalist economy. Another manifestation of this process of worsening market situation is reflected in the factor, social exclusion, which is identified in the U.S. labor market as "including high levels of income inequality, high relative and absolute poverty rates, poor and unequal education outcomes, poor health outcomes and high rates of crime and incarceration" (Schmitt & Zipperer, 2006:15). This holistic view and definition of social exclusion highlights the foreseeable detrimental and interdependent effects that eventually result to a powerless individual unable to participate as a member of the society/community and as a consumer/contributor to the economy. Social exclusion ultimately puts the individual at the lower stratum of the society's class conditions. The highly immobile nature of this stratification -- a reflection of the widening social gap between the poor/workers and the elite/technology owners -- does not provide opportunities for the individual to further or improve his/her social and economic participation over time. The individual is unfortunately cast in a social competition where the winners and losers are already predetermined, but the individual forges on with the hope that the socio-economic ladder will become mobile for him/her, s/he will finally move up and will eventually improve the quality of his/her life.


Bourdieu, P. (1998). "Utopia of endless exploitation: the essence of neoliberalism." Le monde diplomatique web site. Available at:

Harman, C. (2007). "Theorising neoliberalism." International Socialism Journal, Issue 117.

Martinez, E. And a. Garcia. (2000). "What is "neo-liberalism"? A brief definition." Global Exchange web site. Available at:

Schmitt, J. And B. Zipperer. (2006). "Is the U.S. A good model for reducing social exclusion in Europe?" Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Treanor, P. (2007). "Neoliberalism: origins, theory, definition." Paul Treanor Official website. Available at:

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