A methodological interlude: how I do (global) political economy
My approach to International Political Economy (IPE) draws on a number of sources and is greatly indebted to the work of Susan Strange and Margaret Archer. I have laid out this approach in detail before and here repeat some of that discussion and elaborate particularly pertinent aspects that are directly relevant to the analysis set out in this book. Although the discussion here reveals how I have developed my ideas, I do not believe an appreciation of my argument is dependent on looking under the bonnet (so to speak), and so if theoretical issues are of little interest to you, there is no necessity to work through this interlude; you can easily just pick up the argument in Chapter 2. I start from the position that the rules that are the substance of social institutions are not natural, but are the products of social relations, expressed as knowledge about social reality, and knowledge of possibilities or constraints. These rules are reproduced by use; they may shift as new pressures are brought to bear on a social institution as a whole (or in part), but at any time the rules appear fixed; they appear as the structures of society. Thus, although the generation of knowledge produces institutions that appear as structures, it also allows for shifts as rules react to changes in the social relations within an institution's realm of influence.
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