Putting Capitalist Economies in their Place
1. Early regulation approaches in retrospect and prospect This chapter reviews the regulation approach (or RA) and its main schools as they developed in their ﬁrst 15 or so years. We begin with its general theoretical background, then compare seven approaches and their ﬁelds of application, and conclude with some methodological and epistemological criticisms. We focus on methodological and conceptual issues rather than empirical analyses because this is the best basis for comparing schools and their generations. In returning to the origins and early development of the regulation approach, we aim to revive some of its foundational concerns. For, as key RA concepts became common academic currency and terms like ‘Fordism’ and ‘post-Fordism’ were popularized, the pioneer theorists’ original methodological concerns were often forgotten. Scientiﬁc progress in a research programme often requires moving beyond its pioneers so that its impetus and relevance are maintained (Jessop 1990a: 153; Boyer and Saillard 2002c: 45). Such movement has certainly occurred in the RA. But early contributions can also become classic texts. As classic texts, these may not provide answers that would be considered adequate today but they still deﬁne important questions and point to possible solutions. This is the case for some early regulationist studies, which, although they now rarely receive it, do merit continuing critical engagement (Chapters 7 and 10; on the meaning of a classic text, Baehr and O’Brien 1994: 127–8). Neglect of the full range of concerns in pioneer texts has also led to two other problems....
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