The Anxieties of Classical Political Economy

  • Joel T. Shelton
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


Equilibrium is the article of faith of a political economy defined in terms of harmony. No matter the temporary impediments to order and abundance in political-economic life, the actions of self-interested states, firms, and individuals will in time adjust to new conditions and deliver a new set of prices, a new level of output, and a stable institutional order reflecting a new balance of political interests. Where irrationalities erupt, they can be attributed to the operation of ‘norms’ and subsumed as an exception that proves the rule. States, firms, and individuals calculate, markets clear, and institutions adjust. From this vantage point, political economy appears as a ‘great and harmonious machine’ (Blaney and Inayatullah 2010a: 58). Existing theorizations of European Union enlargement are heavily indebted to this account of political-economic life, explaining the function of EU membership conditionality in terms of bargaining outcomes, legislative alignment, and rule/norm adoption that work to harmonize interests, law, and institutions.


Political Economy Moral Judgment Political Econ Commercial Society Moral Sentiment 
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Copyright information

© Joel T. Shelton 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joel T. Shelton
    • 1
  1. 1.Lafayette CollegeUSA

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