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Bob Jessop

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Bob Jessop

Sociospatiality comprises complex, polymorphic relations. Social agents respond through spatial imaginaries and horizons of social action that focus on just some aspects of these relations, generally or in specific contexts. Critical geographers also incline to selective simplification, disagreeing on the best entry-points for sociospatial investigation. This can be illustrated in debates about territory, place, scale, and networks, where one-sided approaches create theoretical deficits, methodological hazards, and restricted empirical analyses. Named after its systematic demarcation of these four moments and its mapping of their possible relations, the ‘TPSN’ schema was developed to counter these problems. It considers different kinds of sociospatial processes and configurations in these terms, commenting on statehood, different kinds of empire, territorial logics and the space of flows, the relativisation of scales, and the limits of spatiotemporal fixes in displacing or deferring sociospatial crisis-tendencies. It also discusses different approaches to sociospatial governance, illustrating them from the European Union.

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Bob Jessop

Polanyi explored the moral and economic dimensions of a “market society” and of the “double movement” through which “society” fights back against efforts to establish self-regulating markets in land, money and labour. His remarks were directed at the epoch of commercial, industrial and financial capitalism. Recent developments in financialization, its crisis tendencies, and their blowback effects on society invite a reconsideration of his analyses for the twenty-first century. To do so, this chapter compares the views of Marx and Polanyi on money, credit and capital and indicates that Polanyi was unaware of the overlap between his analyses and those of Marx on fictitious commodities. It then shows that Polanyi did not build on his recognition that there are distinctions between money, money as credit, and money as capital. This limits the heuristic power of his approach to contemporary economies compared with Marx, who wrote sixty years earlier. Moreover, compared with Polanyi’s time, there is less evidence of an effective double movement against neoliberalism than liberalism. For, while resistance has developed, the political conjuncture is less favourable to serious constraints on the one-sided neoliberal treatment of fictitious commodities in terms of their contribution to the profitability of capital. The analysis concludes by identifying a paradox that, in order to apply a Polanyian analysis to neoliberalism and its double movement, we need to go beyond the conceptual and theoretical scope of Polanyi’s account of money even as we retain his broader understanding of the relation between the market economy and market society.

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Bob Jessop

This chapter reviews some scholarly approaches to governance inspired by different accounts of the state and state power and proposes a new approach based on the strategic-relational approach. It assesses the unproductive distinction between state-centric and society-centric perspectives, evaluates whether a governance-centric perspective is a feasible alternative, and then proposes an approach to state power building on the work of Gramsci and Foucault. It defines state power in terms of “government + governmentality in the shadow of hierarchy” and relates this to the idea of metagovernance and collibration. The chapter ends with five remarks on the scope for mutual dialogue and enrichment between a state-theoretical agenda on governance and a governance-theoretical agenda on the state.

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Bob Jessop

Critical state theoretical perspectives on law address the differentiation and articulation of constitutional, private and public law with the state, civil society and capitalist market economy. Adopting a strategic-relational approach, this chapter focuses on five representative critical theorists: Karl Marx, Evgeny Pashukanis, Antonio Gramsci, Nicos Poulantzas and Michel Foucault. Key issues for all five included the historical specificity of the state and law in capitalist formations; the institutional boundaries of the state (including the division between the public and private spheres) and the capitalist market economy; the relation between the form and functions of the state and law in normal and crisis periods; the relation between legality and illegality in the exercise of state power; and the implications of historical and recent changes in capitalism and its contradictions, crisis tendencies and conflicts for the changing form and content of law and state power.

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Ngai-Ling Sum and Bob Jessop

This chapter introduces cultural political economy as one among several approaches that explore the interconnected semiotic and structural aspects of social life. The CPE approach belongs in the camp of ‘grand theories’ that, inter alia, offers a preliminary set of basic and sensitizing concepts and positive guidelines that are relevant to historical description, hermeneutic interpretation, and causal explanation. It combines critical, historically sensitive, semiotic analyses with concepts from heterodox evolutionary and institutional political economy. It aims thereby to overcome the often compartmentalized analysis of semiosis/culture and structuration/institutions by integrating semiosis into political economy and applying evolutionary and institutional analyses to semiosis. This has important implications for understanding the limits of constructivist and structuralist analyses; lived experience and lesson-drawing; the relations among polity, politics and policy; and specific fields of public policy. Each of these themes is explored in appropriate detail. Finally, by combining specific concepts and analyses bearing on semiosis and structuration, CPE can also provide the basis for critiques of ideology and domination. This offers more solid foundations to understand ideology and ideological effects as well as forms of social domination and contributing thereby to critical policy studies.

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Bob Jessop and Ngai-Ling Sum

This contribution introduces a distinctive approach to the critique of capitalism and, in this context, of recent economic and financial crises and crisis-management. Cultural political economy takes sense-making and meaning-making seriously in describing and explaining political economy without neglecting the historically specific properties, dynamic and crisis-tendencies of capitalist social formations. In this light, the chapter examines the economic and political imaginaries that shaped responses to the 1970s–1980s economic crisis, influenced the rise of neoliberalism, and guided approaches to more recent economic and fisco-financial crises. It also considers the discursive, structural, technological and agential mechanisms that select and retain some crisis construals and proposed solutions rather than others. Regarding the institutional dynamics of recent crises, it is argued that finance-dominated growth has a specific dynamic that reflects the significance of political policies and decisions in its emergence, the nature of its crisis tendencies, and its crisis management. Attention then turns to conjunctural policies of austerity, the neoliberal politics of austerity and a permanent state of austerity. These distinctions are then used to interpret ‘post-crisis’ welfare regimes, paying special attention to the features of the post-crisis austerity state in neo-liberal regimes and the European Union.

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Boxes and figures

Putting Culture in its Place in Political Economy

Ngai-Ling Sum and Bob Jessop