The Limits of Regulation
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The Limits of Regulation

A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Development

Stavros Mavroudeas

This unique and original book offers a critical survey of the regulation approach, an influential theoretical school born in the 1970s and belonging to the neo-Marxist and radical political economy traditions.
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Stavros Mavroudeas


Regulation began as a promising approach for rejuvenating and operationalizing Marxist and radical political economy. In particular its initial aim, which was to discover, on the basis of Marxist general theory, the appropriate analytical instruments for studying concrete historical reality was both pertinent and well targeted. Equally apposite was the intuition that concrete historical reality is not a continuum but is divided into distinct historical epochs and stages with different characteristics. Thus, the gearing of Marxist general theory to historical reality must necessarily be linked to a stages theory. However, despite its promising start, Regulation ultimately failed in this self-imposed task. The reason for this failure is that it adopted – consciously or unconsciously in the beginning – the wrong methodology in order to accomplish it. The middle-range method that was chosen proved inadequate to the task. Indeed, the effect was to subvert the original aim and to lead Regulation along a completely different path: to an attempt to create, on the basis of the middle-range perspective, a standalone theory. This path, while initially promising, actually aggravated the problems that Regulation was initially set to solve. The result was a further deterioration of Regulation’s explanatory power. Its association with institutionalism and its growing flirtation with post-modernism made things still worse. The end result was not only a weakened analytical and explanatory ability but also a crisis of identity. Regulation became increasingly internally incoherent and centrifugal tendencies grew within its ranks. This led to the current state of disintegration of the Regulation Approach....

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