Ideologically, liberalism claims that economic, political, and social relations are best organized through formally free1 choices of formally free and rational actors who seek to advance their own material or ideal interests in an institutional framework that, by accident or design, maximizes the scope for formally free choice (Jessop, 2002: 453).
1 I use the concept of “formal freedom” here to draw an implicit contrast with the lack of full substantive freedom due to the multiple constraints that limit free choice. The institutionalization of formal freedom is nonetheless a significant political accomplishment and a major element in liberal citizenship, as well as a precondition for market economies.
— Jessop, B. (2002). Liberalism, neoliberalism, and urban governance: a State–theoretical perspective. Antipode 34(3), 452-472.