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Taking capitalism seriously: Toward an institutionalist approach to contemporary political economy

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  • Streeck, Wolfgang
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    Abstract

    This paper outlines an institutionalist political economy approach to capitalism as a specific type of social order. Social science institutionalism considers social systems to be structured by sanctioned rules of obligatory behavior. Its perspective is one of collective ordering, or governance, through regularization and normalization of social action, either by public authority or by private contract. Political economy looks at the interrelations between collective action in general and collective rule-making in particular, and the economy; it extends from economic and social policy-making to the way in which economic interests and constraints influence policy, politics and social life as a whole. The approach proposed in this article looks at society and economy as densely intertwined and closely interdependent, which is what traditional concepts of capitalism stood for. Proceeding from an institutionalist perspective, it elaborates a concept of capitalism not as a self-driven mechanism of surplus extraction and accumulation governed by objective laws, but as a set of interrelated social institutions, and as a historically specific system of structured as well as structuring social interaction within and in relation to an institutionalized social order. -- Das Papier entwickelt den Ansatz einer institutionalistischen politischen Ökonomie des Kapitalismus als einer spezifischen Form sozialer Ordnung. Sozialwissenschaftlicher Institutionalismus betrachtet soziale Systeme als durch sanktionierte Regeln obligatorischen Handelns strukturiert. Seine Perspektive ist die der Produktion kollektiver Ordnung ('governance') durch Regulierung und Normalisierung sozialen Handelns, vermittels öffentlicher Autorität oder durch private Verträge. Politische Ökonomie betrachtet das Wechselspiel zwischen kollektivem Handeln im Allgemeinen und kollektiver Regelsetzung im Besonderen auf der einen Seite und der Wirtschaft auf der anderen; ihr Gebiet schließt wirtschafts- und sozialpolitische Entscheidungen ebenso ein wie die Beeinflussung des politischen und sozialen Leben durch wirtschaftliche Interessen und Zwänge. Der vorgeschlagene Ansatz behandelt Gesellschaft und Wirtschaft, in Einklang mit traditionellen Theorien des Kapitalismus, als eng ineinander verschränkt und hoch interdependent. Ausgehend von einer institutionalistischen Perspektive wird ein Konzept des Kapitalismus als System aufeinander bezogener Institutionen entwickelt - als historisch spezifisches System strukturierter und strukturierender sozialer Interaktion innerhalb und gegenüber einer institutionalisierten sozialen Ordnung.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in its series MPIfG Discussion Paper with number 10/15.

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    Date of creation: 2010
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgd:1015

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    1. Beckert, Jens & Streeck, Wolfgang, 2008. "Economic sociology and political economy: A programmatic perspective," MPIfG Working Paper 08/4, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
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