Jessica Whyte

Sep 8, 2020

The Morals of the Market

Human Rights and the Rise of Neoliberalism

Verso 2019

Drawing on detailed archival research on the parallel histories of human rights and neoliberalism, in The Morals of the Market: Human Rights and the Rise of Neoliberalism (Verso), Jessica Whyte uncovers the place of human rights in neoliberal attempts to develop a moral framework for a market society.

In the wake of the Second World War, neoliberals saw demands for new rights to social welfare and self-determination as threats to “civilisation”. Yet, rather than rejecting rights, they developed a distinctive account of human rights as tools to depoliticise civil society, protect private investments and shape liberal subjects.

Jessica Whyte is Scientia Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of New South Wales. She has published widely on human rights, humanitarianism, sovereignty and war. She is author of Catastrophe and Redemption: The Political Thought of Giorgio Agamben, (SUNY 2013) and The Morals of the Market: Human Rights and the Rise of Neoliberalism (Verso, 2019) and an editor of Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism and Development. More of her research is available here:

Dr Alexandra Ortolja-Baird is a visiting researcher at the British Museum and teaches Digital Humanities at University College London.

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