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 6: A cultural political economy of variegated capitalism

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

Extract

The essential role of semiosis in social practices underpins the CPE critique of ‘hard political economy’. CPE is not intended to replace critical political economy, however, but to interpret and explain the logic of capital accumulation even more powerfully. Indeed, as indicated in our comments on the siren call of the constructivist Charybdis, making a cultural turn risks losing sight of the specificity of the ‘economic’ by subsuming the ‘economic’ under a general analysis of semiosis, meaning-making, identity formation and performativity. This would imply that there is no difference between the emergent logic of a profit-oriented, market-mediated economy and, say, law, education, politics or science. They would all be equally constructed and reproduced through discursive practices (see Chapters 3 and 4). Against this erroneous conclusion, we argue, following Weber, for explanations adequate at the level of material causation as well as meaning; and, following Marx, for recognition of the contradictions and crisis tendencies of an economic order organized under the dominance of the capital relation. Thus we now develop the critique of ‘soft economic sociology’ by exploring the commonalities of capitalism and the bases for its variegation in the world market. This analysis is consistent with, and, indeed, draws on arguments in, Beyond the Regulation Approach (Jessop and Sum 2006), but has been elaborated and refined on the basis of Parts I and II of the present work.

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