The Ideology of Competitiveness


  • James Rinehart



Political Economy


The necessity of competitiveness has been hammered home by governments, corporations, and the media to the point that it is taken for granted, a fact of life that is so obvious that we unthinkingly acquiesce to its dictates. Competitiveness has been elevated to the status of a natural law, like the law of gravity, a force that is useless to question or resist. In part, the seductiveness of the term arises from its roots in the material process of economic competition. Monopolies and oligopolies notwithstanding, some degree of competition between business firms for markets and profits is an inherent element of capitalism that can be observed and measured. In contrast, competitiveness, or the ideology of competition, is used to justify the decisions and actions of firms, especially when the outcomes adversely affect some people, groups, and classes. Historically, the concept of competitiveness has been used to justify business opposition to unions, reduced hours of work, wage increases, paid vacations, health and safety regulations, antipollution laws, and so on.