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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 11: Crisis construals and crisis recovery in the North Atlantic financial crisis

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


Crises are multi-faceted phenomena that invite multiple approaches from different entry-points and standpoints. This chapter deploys a CPE approach to explore how the recent crisis in the North Atlantic economies, still continuing at the time of writing in mid-2013, has been construed through different economic imaginaries. Of interest is the shock that crises gave to the prevailing economic wisdom and dominant policy paradigms, leading to the recovery of other economic perspectives as well as a search to imagine alternative economic and political paths to economic recovery. Key aspects of the retrospective interpretation and prospective envisioning of economic performance are actors’ differential capacities for lesson-drawing and asymmetrical abilities to refuse to learn from their mistakes. Accordingly the following analysis considers the multi-faceted nature of the North Atlantic financial crisis and its global repercussions, the selection of some construals rather than others as the basis for economic responses and crisis management, and the transformation of a crisis that originated in private credit relations and securitization into a crisis of sovereign debt and public finances. Of special interest are two issues.

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