Research Handbooks on Globalisation and the Law series
Edited by Ugo Mattei and John D. Haskell
Chapter 8: Finance and the ‘real’ economy: systemic complexity, complex agencies
In this chapter I address the question of the nature of the relationship between finance and what is commonly referred to as the ‘real economy’. Existing literature in political economy on this subject offers two, fundamentally irreconcilable perspectives. Scholarship in Marxist and other structuralist traditions within political economy are grounded in visions that see inevitable conflict between the world of real production and trade, and the world of finance. Economic crises are understood as one manifestation of this conflict. At the same time, the emergent literature on financialisation offers interesting frameworks for the analysis of micro-level processes of embedding the logic, mechanisms and practices of finance into everyday life and thus transforming capitalist organisation. Over the long run and at the macro-level, however, financialisation studies still tend to stress inevitable tensions between the interests driving the sphere of finance and that of the real economy. Literature in law, in turn, by and large does not differentiate the productive from the financial sphere, prioritising the relations of property and ownership of assets as its key analytical category.
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