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.

Chapter 4: Neo-Conservative Regimes and the Transition to Post-Fordism

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


This chapter examines the transition to post-Fordism in the United Kingdom and West Germany under the conservative regimes of Mrs Thatcher and Herr Kohl.1 It asks why this took the form of Thatcherism in Britain and why West Germany had no comparable regime (let alone one dignified with the label of Kohlism). We seek an explanation in two related sets of factors: (1) the modes of regulation and growth associated with Fordism in these societies; and (2) their state and political systems. These features shaped the crisis of Fordism in each country and framed the search for a post-Fordist accumulation regime. This explanation is not exhaustive (nor is it intended to be) and other matters are also relevant. But it is already more complex as well as concrete than the general analysis of the Fordist state in Chapter 3 and makes a further step in the development of a regulation- and state-theoretical approach to an integral economic analysis. Thus we give a brief account of Fordism, its crisis and the likely forms of post-Fordism; describe the specific forms assumed by Fordism in Britain and Germany; and explore the responses to the crisis of Fordism by the Thatcher and Kohl governments. We end with some general remarks on the importance for the regulation approach of developing an adequate account of the state and political power. REGIMES OF ACCUMULATION The RA asks how capitalism could survive even though the capital relation itself inevitably generated antagonisms and crises that made continuing...

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