Chapter 1: Institutional turns and beyond in political economy
Putting Culture in its Place in Political Economy
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This chapter addresses the logos, logic and limits of the institutional turn. It reviews the grounds for institutional turns (their logos), their explanatory value (their logic) and the blindspots of a monocular concern with institutions (their limits). We ask what needs to be recovered from classical political economy and social theory, and what lessons can be learnt from recent work, so that institutions can be ‘put in their place’. We note that they rest on fragile institutionalized compromises, that agency (including potentials for bricolage, innovation and resistance) is primary, and that institutions are linked to broader structures of domination. We also ask what further turn(s) might be made to advance critical political economy. Of interest here is the ‘fourth institutionalism’: constructivist, discursive or ideational. Old institutionalists might well consider this a cultural return. Addressing the limits to the institutional turn(s) and calls for a fourth institutionalism are our bridge to Chapter 2, which considers the logos, logic and limits of cultural turns in heterodox political economy.

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