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Although scholars have recently taken an increased interest in the history of neoliberalism, the ‘breakthrough’ of neoliberalism under Thatcher and Reagan still captures most of their attention. Consequently, the neoliberal project is primarily taken as Anglo-American, while its early history is mostly studied to explain the political shift of the 1980s. This article focuses on the early neoliberal movement in the Netherlands (1945–58) to highlight the continental European roots of neoliberal thought, trace the remarkably wide dissemination of neoliberal ideas in Dutch socio-economic debates and highlight the key role of these ideas in the conceptualisation of the Western European welfare state.
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