Table of Contents

Towards a Cultural Political Economy

Towards a Cultural Political Economy

Putting Culture in its Place in Political Economy

Ngai-Ling Sum and Bob Jessop

This fascinating volume offers a critique of recent institutional and cultural turns in heterodox economics and political economy. Using seven case studies as examples, the authors explore how research on sense- and meaning-making can deepen critical studies in political economy, illuminating its role in critiquing the specific categories, contradictions and crisis-tendencies of capitalism.

Chapter 1: Institutional turns and beyond in political economy

Ngai-Ling Sum and Bob Jessop

Subjects: economics and finance, cultural economics, institutional economics, political economy, politics and public policy, political economy, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory


This chapter addresses the logos, logic and limits of the institutional turn. It reviews the grounds for institutional turns (their logos), their explanatory value (their logic) and the blindspots of a monocular concern with institutions (their limits). We ask what needs to be recovered from classical political economy and social theory, and what lessons can be learnt from recent work, so that institutions can be ‘put in their place’. We note that they rest on fragile institutionalized compromises, that agency (including potentials for bricolage, innovation and resistance) is primary, and that institutions are linked to broader structures of domination. We also ask what further turn(s) might be made to advance critical political economy. Of interest here is the ‘fourth institutionalism’: constructivist, discursive or ideational. Old institutionalists might well consider this a cultural return. Addressing the limits to the institutional turn(s) and calls for a fourth institutionalism are our bridge to Chapter 2, which considers the logos, logic and limits of cultural turns in heterodox political economy.

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