213
Conclusion
The Free Market and the Invisible Spectator
My aim in this book has been to question prevailing ideas of the market.
I questioned those ideas by analyzing a particular mode of neoliberal
market expansion in the 1980s and 1990s. That expansion involved inte-
grating the poor into the neoliberal global market by taking possession
of the social networks and cultural practices that enable the poor to
survive. Expansion of the neoliberal market, I showed, is simultaneously
a mode of dispossessing the poor. In opposition to the prevailing accep-
tance of the neoliberal market as ‘‘the’’ market I showed that in the world
today (just as in the worlds of yesterday), there exist other markets. One
such market is the market of workshops that I studied in detail in Cairo.
On the basis of that research, I argued that expansion of the neoliberal
market should not be understood as bringing the market to those who
had known it not. To the contrary, those on whose account the neo-
liberal market is expanding lived their market lives long before the idea
of the neoliberal market began to haunt us. I have shown how the neolib-
eral market expanded in this period by integrating those existing markets
into its midst. But the integration of existing markets into the neoliberal
market was a complex process. It was predicated on deconstructing ex-
isting markets, not through academic exercises but through concrete
forms of intervention that undermined the very basis for those forms of
market life. Integration of those existing markets into the neoliberal
market also required that neoliberalism betray key tenets of the liberal
credo from which it stemmed, such as the notion of progress. That
notion was thrown away when the cultural practices of people once seen
as backward became a key to market success in the guise of social capital.
Agents of workshop markets resisted the unmaking that was visited upon
Previous Page Next Page