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Temple University

1. DePhillips, Robert. Economic Freedom for the Free: How Neoliberalism is Leading to Greater Income Inequality Within Countries.

Degree: PhD, 2016, Temple University

Sociology

Many observers have noticed a sharp divergence of household incomes in the last few decades that seems unrelated to the traditional explanations of inequality like economic development. My dissertation examines the question of how the rise of neoliberalism—or the market über alles—impacts this inequality in countries around the world. High inequality is known to hinder economic growth, social mobility, democratic functioning, social capital, and to adversely affect health and education outcomes, as well as to exacerbate racial and residential inequality. Equality, meanwhile, is seen as desirable in its own right as a matter of social justice. Neoliberalism is a likely suspect because it emerged at the same time and in the same places that inequality began to rise after three postwar decades of decline. It is also a particularly competitive form of capitalism, and thus produces more winners and losers at both ends of the income distribution. With its focus on profits, it is much more beneficial to income derived from capital gains at the expense of wages, deepening the typical class divide under capitalism. Finally, neoliberalism is an elite consensus formed without any public participation, and these special interests shape the economy and society to the benefit of this privileged minority. I find four major shortcomings of existing research related to my research question. First, all but the most recent research has had to rely on sub-standard data for cross-national comparisons, which I address using Frederick Solt’s (2009) Standardized World Income Inequality Database (SWIID). Second, past analyses of cross-national data have improperly handled between-country variation, which I address using a dual fixed-effects modelling approach. Third, there are operationalization problems with neoliberalism, in which past research has failed to capture the phenomenon in its entirety. I address this by developing a new multi-dimensional measurement approach. Moreover, there is a determined failure by many to fully consider neoliberalism as a likely explanation because it contradicts the myth of liberal democracy and capitalist benevolence. Along these lines, the fourth shortcoming is that most popular explanations of rising inequality blame otherwise benign trends such as globalization and technological advancement. This obscures the political nature of neoliberalism, especially how the rich are able to dominate political economy at the expense of the masses. In doing so, it makes it appear that inequality is just a byproduct of progress, that we must accept it as inevitable, and that only palliatives are available. The reality, however, is that neoliberalism is neither inevitable nor progressive and requires systemic change to rectify. I address the research question with three research components. First, I develop a definition of neoliberalism in contrast to existing theoretical narratives, namely globalization, neo-Keynesianism, dependency theory, and economic freedom. I argue neoliberalism is a social and…

Advisors/Committee Members: Kaufman, Robert L;, Ritter, Moritz, Zhang, Lu, Krivo, Lauren J.;.

Subjects/Keywords: Sociology;

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APA · Chicago · MLA · Vancouver · CSE | Export to Zotero / EndNote / Reference Manager

APA (6th Edition):

DePhillips, R. (2016). Economic Freedom for the Free: How Neoliberalism is Leading to Greater Income Inequality Within Countries. (Doctoral Dissertation). Temple University. Retrieved from http://digital.library.temple.edu/u?/p245801coll10,394855

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

DePhillips, Robert. “Economic Freedom for the Free: How Neoliberalism is Leading to Greater Income Inequality Within Countries.” 2016. Doctoral Dissertation, Temple University. Accessed March 24, 2019. http://digital.library.temple.edu/u?/p245801coll10,394855.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

DePhillips, Robert. “Economic Freedom for the Free: How Neoliberalism is Leading to Greater Income Inequality Within Countries.” 2016. Web. 24 Mar 2019.

Vancouver:

DePhillips R. Economic Freedom for the Free: How Neoliberalism is Leading to Greater Income Inequality Within Countries. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. Temple University; 2016. [cited 2019 Mar 24]. Available from: http://digital.library.temple.edu/u?/p245801coll10,394855.

Council of Science Editors:

DePhillips R. Economic Freedom for the Free: How Neoliberalism is Leading to Greater Income Inequality Within Countries. [Doctoral Dissertation]. Temple University; 2016. Available from: http://digital.library.temple.edu/u?/p245801coll10,394855

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