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 7: Regenerating the Regulation Approach

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


The RA has developed a distinctive approach to accumulation, its conditions of existence, its varieties, its crisis tendencies and its impact on wider social relations. Its extensive application to issues of ‘Fordism’ and ‘post-Fordism’ contributed much to its initial popularity. But even early regulationist studies explored other topics and later work has deepened and widened RA work far beyond the issue of Fordism and its possible successor(s). It is these trends that concern us here. We explore the RA’s successive generations and developmental paths, with examples from the Parisian ‘state of the art’ and other schools. We then consider Parisian responses to the failure of the initial alternative economic strategy with which it was associated (due to its non-adoption rather than implementation failure) and to its relative isolation from mainstream economics. We also examine how regulationism has been received and understood outside the field of economics. We end by asking if these years of research, scholarship and exposition have been worthwhile and suggest that the RA has, indeed, initiated ‘an endogenous process of cumulative research’ (Vidal 2001: 45; cf. Boyer and Saillard 2002c: 45). GENESIS AND AGENDA OF THE REGULATION APPROACH The RA is often mistakenly identified with the highly influential Parisian école de la régulation of economists such as Aglietta, Boyer and Lipietz. The other schools identified in Chapter 1 have had far less impact overall. Thus, at the risk of perpetuating the conflation of regulationism and the Parisian school, we will often...

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