Beyond the Regulation Approach

Beyond the Regulation Approach

Putting Capitalist Economies in their Place

Bob Jessop and Ngai-Ling Sum

This book presents a detailed and critical account of the regulation approach in institutional and evolutionary economics. Offering both a theoretical commentary and a range of empirical examples, it identifies the successes and failures of the regulation approach as an explanatory theory, and proposes new guidelines for its further development.

Introduction

Bob Jessop and Ngai-Ling Sum

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

Extract

From the early 1970s onwards, the regulation approach (hereafter RA) has been a leading research paradigm in the revival of institutional and evolutionary economics and in the more general development of the ‘new political economy’. Yet it is often misunderstood because the dominant Parisian approach is interpreted on the basis of outdated English-language texts that attracted many anglophone social scientists in the 1980s and early 1990s (cf. Boyer 2002b: 1–2) and because important and innovative German regulationist work has not even been translated and is little known outside the German-speaking world. Thus one of our aims is to overcome these misunderstandings and to provide a broader, but still critical, appreciation of the approach as a whole. A further stimulus is that, although it originated in economics and many of its principal advocates still work mainly in this discipline, it has spread well beyond economics. Indeed it played a major role in heterodox analyses of diverse topics in the political, social and cultural spheres in the 1980s and 1990s and some of its proponents are still active contributors to trans- and post-disciplinary studies across several academic fields. This expansion of the RA beyond economics stems from its commitment to a critical political economy that emphasizes the role of extraeconomic as well as economic factors in capitalist development. This is said to involve alternating periods of relatively stable capital accumulation and crisis-induced restructuring, rescaling and reregulation. The RA’s various schools and tendencies take extra-economic and economic institutions seriously and also recognize...