Research Handbook on Political Economy and Law
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Research Handbook on Political Economy and Law

Edited by Ugo Mattei and John D. Haskell

Events such as the global financial crisis have helped reveal that the drivers and contours of governance on a national and international level remain a mystery in many respects. Set in this context, this timely Research Handbook is the first to explicitly address the constitutive relationship between law and political economy. With scholarly contributions from diverse disciplinary and geographic backgrounds, this authoritative book covers, in three parts, topics surrounding money and markets, the relations of organization, and commodities, land and resources.
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Chapter 8: Finance and the ‘real’ economy: systemic complexity, complex agencies

Luigi Russi


In this chapter I address the question of the nature of the relationship between finance and what is commonly referred to as the ‘real economy’. Existing literature in political economy on this subject offers two, fundamentally irreconcilable perspectives. Scholarship in Marxist and other structuralist traditions within political economy are grounded in visions that see inevitable conflict between the world of real production and trade, and the world of finance. Economic crises are understood as one manifestation of this conflict. At the same time, the emergent literature on financialisation offers interesting frameworks for the analysis of micro-level processes of embedding the logic, mechanisms and practices of finance into everyday life and thus transforming capitalist organisation. Over the long run and at the macro-level, however, financialisation studies still tend to stress inevitable tensions between the interests driving the sphere of finance and that of the real economy. Literature in law, in turn, by and large does not differentiate the productive from the financial sphere, prioritising the relations of property and ownership of assets as its key analytical category.

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