Beyond the Regulation Approach
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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.
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Chapter 12: Gramsci as a Proto- and Post-Regulation Theorist

Bob Jessop and Ngai-Ling Sum


This chapter identifies important parallels between Antonio Gramsci’s philosophy of praxis and the regulation approach. Gramsci (1891–1936) was an Italian Communist who made major contributions to Marxist theory and political practice in the last century. He is often said, wrongly in our opinion, to have originated the concept of Fordism and, correctly in our opinion, to have inspired first-generation regulationists (for example, Aglietta 1979; Boyer 1990a). This reflects the fact that, while he was unavoidably interested in Russia and the Soviet Union, his ideas were firmly rooted in the historical development and current affairs of Italy and, more broadly, in Europe, the USA and the wider international system. Many observers illustrate this from his views on politics, civil society, culture, intellectuals, political parties and revolutionary strategy. However, we will explore his views on critical political economy, modes of production, economic laws and what is nowadays termed the social embedding of the economy. We aim to show that Gramsci can be read both as a proto- and a post-regulationist, that is, as someone who prepared some of the intellectual ground for regulationist analyses and as someone whose work indicates the need to move beyond the RA towards what we call ‘cultural political economy’. This may seem surprising given the usual state-theoretical and/or culturalist readings of his work. Gramsci is often interpreted as seeking to develop an autonomous Marxist science of politics appropriate for capitalist societies with a view to establishing the most likely conditions and strategies for a...

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