Introduction
Putting Culture in its Place in Political Economy
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Cultural political economy is an emerging and still developing trans-disciplinary approach oriented to post-disciplinary horizons. It is concerned with the semiotic and structural aspects of social life and, even more importantly, their articulation. It combines concepts from critical, historically sensitive, semiotic analyses and from critical evolutionary and institutional political economy. In this context, cultural political economy refers both to an increasingly ‘grand theory’ and to an expanding field of empirical study. Theoretically, it has six features (see 23–25) that, together, distinguish it from other approaches with similar theoretical ambitions. In brief, it combines the analysis of sense-and meaning-making with the analysis of instituted economic and political relations and their social embedding. More expansively, it aims to produce a consistent ‘integral’ analysis of political economy from the perspective of the interaction of its specific semiotic and structural features at the same time as it embeds this analysis into a more general account of semiosis and structuration in wider social formations. Thus, as a grand-theoretical project, its insights can be applied far beyond its home domain in political economy.

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