Net Neutrality| The Debate Nobody Knows: Network Neutrality’s Neoliberal Roots and a Conundrum for Media Reform

Russell Newman


Discussions about network neutrality largely have been divorced from network neutrality’s connections to neoliberalism. This article seeks to rectify this, performing three tasks. First, it resituates the history of network neutrality as a concept within the development of what economic historians as Philip Mirowski have termed a neoliberal thought collective. Second, it speaks to the particularly neoliberal form of activist organization that was required to secure the Federal Communications Commission’s reversal of a decade-plus of policy. Last, I offer a brief outline of the cultural labor the network neutrality debate performed as a consequence of the way it was historically justified. Network neutrality is, perversely, a site of neoliberalism’s construction. Media activism going forward must deal with the ambivalences this produces.


neoliberalism, network neutrality, media reform, broadband policy

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