Header image of books


Photo of Terence Ball
Terence Ball

Marketopia was created by Professor Terence Ball of Arizona State University in an article in the magazine Dissent in 2001. He formed it from marketing and utopia to identify and satirise a world in which social responsibility has been lost, all public services have been privatised and market forces rule absolutely. The quality of life experienced by those living in his imagined world is so poor that a better root would be dystopia.

It has a small continuing circulation among left-leaning liberal commentators on economics, with its adjective marketopian. It’s perhaps best known from Peter Lunn’s book of 2009, Basic Instincts: Human Nature and the New Economics, in which Lunn invents the city of Marketopia, where everybody is as rational and selfish as conventional economic theory holds.

A US provider of warranties for home equipment has adopted the term marketopia as a service mark, presumably in ignorance of its origin and associations.

The main shortcoming of marketopia is its massive and systematic violation of a fundamental sense of fairness. Marketopians who cannot afford health care, education, police protection, and other of life’s necessities are denied a fair (or even minimally sufficient) share of social goods.

The Abandoned Generation, by Henry A Giroux, 2003.

Mistrust ... is evident in marketopian reforms which treat public servants as knaves to be slapped into line by the self-interested whack of the invisible hand.

The Guardian, 1 Jan. 2011.

Search World Wide Words

Support this website!

Donate via PayPal. Select your currency from the list and click Donate.

Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 5 Feb. 2011

Advice on copyright

The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-mar2.htm
Last modified: 5 February 2011.