Two Can Play at That Game … or Can They? Varieties of Capitalism, Varieties of Institutionalism
The ‘varieties of capitalism’ (VoC) perspective, as it has come to be known, has been much lauded and rightly heralded as the newly ascendant paradigm in the comparative political economy of the advanced capitalist economies. As Howell has recently observed, comparative political economy ‘has reached a moment of theoretical synthesis, similar to that which existed around the concept of neo-corporatism in the early 1980s, in which a series of discrete, incremental theoretical developments coalesced into a new theoretical paradigm’ (2003a: 103). The rise to prominence of this new paradigm has been exceptionally rapid, aided greatly by the publication of Hall and Soskice’s deeply influential edited collection, Varieties of Capitalism: The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage and, in particular, their extensive theoretical introduction (2001). Yet, partly as a consequence of this, the VoC perspective has not given rise to as extensive a body of secondary literature — assessing and evaluating its core theoretical and substantive contributions — as have many far less influential perspectives (though see Blyth 2003; Goodin 2003; Howell 2003a; Watson 2003; and for a response to their critics Hall and Soskice 2003). A critical evaluation and assessment of this exceptionally influential body of literature is, then, long overdue and is a core aim of this book.
KeywordsEurope Coherence Expense Posit Defend
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