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Towards a heterodox theory of the economic actor. The contribution of two French institutionalist schools


  • Nicolas Postel

    () (University of Lille 1 - CLERSE (UMR 0819 CNRS))

  • Richard Sobel

    () (University of Lille 1 - CLERSE (UMR 0819 CNRS))


The analyses produced by the French ‘regulationist’ and ‘conventionalist’ schools of economic theory both complement and contradict each other. Adherents of the regulationist school fear that convention theory’s ‘soft consensualism’ will cause it to lose its Marxist-Keynesian radicalism, while the conventionalists, on the other hand, seek to persuade the regulationists that they alone hold the microeconomic key to the relative theoretical impasse in which the latter are said to find themselves. It is absolutely essential for heterodox economics to have at its disposal an alternative theory of action with which to counter the homo oeconomicus of neoclassical economics, which underpins the dominant mode of economic theorizing. Such a theory is lacking in both the regulationist and conventionalist schools, and is ultimately the missing piece in the heterodox jigsaw puzzle, without which radical institutionalism is condemned to remain a theoretical archipelago without any real power in the face of the neoclassical continent. We will investigate how, without always fully accepting it, these two schools point towards a common theory of economic action, for which we will attempt to prepare the ground.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicolas Postel & Richard Sobel, 2011. "Towards a heterodox theory of the economic actor. The contribution of two French institutionalist schools," History of Economic Ideas, Fabrizio Serra Editore, Pisa - Roma, vol. 19(2), pages 43-68.
  • Handle: RePEc:hid:journl:v:19:y:2011:2:2:p:43-68

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