Politics as a Peculiar Business

Politics as a Peculiar Business

Insights from a Theory of Entangled Political Economy

New Thinking in Political Economy series

Richard E. Wagner

Economists typically treat government as something outside the business realm, a sort of “Lord of the Manor”. Richard Wagner argues that this is the wrong approach and can ultimately be destructive to capitalism and to society.

Chapter 2: Alternative paths for a theory of political economy

Richard E. Wagner

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, public choice theory


This chapter contrasts two approaches to working with the compound noun “political economy.” The standard, additive framework treats polity and economy as distinct objects, and with polity intervening into economy to change its attributes. The alternative, entangled framework treats polity and economy as comprising a single system that is only partially decomposable into separate subsystems. This alternative framework leads into recognition that property rights are social relationships that continually are open to contestation. It also leads to recognition of the significance of different forms of the capital accounts of political enterprises.

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