Latest Research on Political Economy : Feb 2022

A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

I examine the system of bourgeois economy in the following order: capital, landed property, wage-labour; the State, foreign trade, world market. The economic conditions of existence of the three great classes into which modern bourgeois society is divided are analysed under the first three headings; the interconnection of the other three headings is self-evident. The first part of the first book, dealing with Capital, comprises the following chapters: (1) The commodity; (2) Money or simple circulation; (3) Capital in general. The present part consists of the first two chapters. The entire material lies before me in the form of monographs, which were written not for publication but for self-clarification at widely separated periods; their remoulding into an integrated whole according to the plan I have indicated will depend upon circumstances.[1]


This article has two main aims. The first is to problematize the dominant view of the informal economy as a sort of separate economy, related primarily to (immigrant) small business and distinct from the so-called formal economy, which for the most part encompasses big companies as well as state economic activities. In contrast, the present article assumes that all economic actors are increasingly ready to adopt informal economic strategies to secure their economical survival. In line with this assumption, the second aim of the article is to contribute to our knowledge of the causes of, as well as the actors within, the current informalization trends that characterize Western economies. The article concludes that the informalization of contemporary advanced economies in general terms is a result of a structural conflict between new economic trends and old regulatory frameworks. These frameworks, with their focus on decommodification, have become too restrictive for new forms of capital accumulation, with their focus on flexible adaptation, which include an increasing demand for the re-commodification of labour. The conflict emerges and intensifies, among other reasons, because of the radically different internal operational logics, agendas and priorities that characterize these two social processes.[2]

From Political Economy to Political Analysis

This paper argues that existing political economy approaches lack the analytical tools needed to grasp the inner politics of development. Political economy has come to be seen narrowly as the economics of politics – the way incentives shape behaviour. Much recent political economy work therefore misses what is distinctively political about politics – power, interests, agency, ideas, the subtleties of building and sustaining coalitions, and the role of contingency. This paper aims to give policy makers and practitioners more precise conceptual tools to help them interpret the inner, ‘micro’, politics of the contexts in which they work. It argues in particular for more focus on recognising and working with the different forms of power, on understanding how and where interests develop, and on the role of ideas.[3]

Where are we in the political economy of reform?

We review the experiences of developing countries with market-oriented reforms, using the tools of modern political economy. We impose intellectual discipline by requiring that actors behave rationally using available information and that basic economic relationships such as budget constraints be accounted for. We attempt to integrate two approaches, one based on dynamic games played by interest groups, with one that focus on limited information and the dynamics of learning. We describe the “starting point” as the set of “old” policies and we attempt to explain the dynamics (political, economic and informational) that lead to reform (section II). We analyze strategies for reformers subject to political constraints (section Ш).[4]

Economics and Political Economy

May I begin by saying what an honor I feel it to be asked to lecture before this distinguished assembly on a foundation designed to commemorate the fame of one of the most influential economists of the earlier years of your great association. May I also say what an intense pleasure it is to be chaired by my dear friend William Baumol, an excolleague and, since our first acquaintance, the source of so much learning on my part and continuous inspiration.[5]


[1] Marx, K., 2010. A contribution to the critique of political economy. In Marx today (pp. 91-94). Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

[2] Slavnic, Z., 2010. Political economy of informalization. European societies, 12(1), pp.3-23.

[3] Hudson, D. and Leftwich, A., 2014. From political economy to political analysis.

[4] Tommasi, M. and Velasco, A., 1996. Where are we in the political economy of reform?. The Journal of Policy Reform, 1(2), pp.187-238.

[5] Robbins, L., 1997. Economics and political economy. In Economic Science and Political Economy (pp. 415-428). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Spread the love

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *