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 9: Rescaling Regulation and Governance in a Global Age

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 explores the implications of globalization for the RA and develops a regulationist account of globalization. It has four main concerns: (1) contesting the often unstated assumption that globalization comprises a coherent causal mechanism – or set of causal mechanisms – rather than a complex, chaotic and overdetermined outcome of a multiscalar, multitemporal and multicentric series of processes operating in specific structural contexts; (2) questioning the intellectual and practical search for the primary scale, whether global, triadic, national, regional or urban, around which the world economy is currently organized as if this would somehow be directly analogous to the primacy of the national scale in 30 glorious years of postwar growth associated with Atlantic Fordism; (3) relating the resulting ‘relativization of scale’, that is, the absence of a dominant nodal point in managing interscalar relations, to some basic contradictions and dilemmas of capitalism, changing accumulation regimes, the changing ‘institutional hierarchy’ of the different moments of regulation and the increased importance for competitiveness of the social embeddedness of economic activities; and (4) noting how these problems are being addressed through economic and political projects oriented to different scales, with little consensus as yet on how these projects and scales might be reconciled, if at all, in a coherent mode of global regulation for the current stage of the world market. GLOBALIZATION: A ‘CHAOTIC CONCEPT’ Aglietta has described ‘globalization’ as a catch-all concept (2000a: 413). One could go much further and describe it as a polyvalent, promiscuous, controversial word that often obscures...

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