Concerns have been raised that neoliberalism has become the favoured, yet uncritically applied lens used to approach and explain societal developments. This contribution assesses research on an area where this concern has been pronounced, namely the formerly centrally planned economies of Europe. Examining a sample of more than 200 articles published in twelve geography, area and urban studies journals over the period 2000–2014, findings suggest that while neoliberalism is not generally used as a blanket explanation for patterns of change following the collapse of the Berlin Wall, it is occasionally gratuitously afforded explanatory power. Moreover, in this role it is rarely defined and more rarely still validated empirically. Thus, in about one tenth of the sampled literature, the importance of neoliberalism is asserted rather than shown.