chapter  2
30 Pages

The political economy of capitalist development

Recent interaction between the twin branches of contemporary political economy, denoted by the prefixes ‘I’ and ‘C’, has been dominated by a mutual anxiety to establish clear and differentiated intellectual identities. At a very basic level, the field of IPE has been concerned to distinguish itself as a coherent field of enquiry and a discrete academic endeavour, encountering some difficulty in doing so while at the same time striving to maintain an intellectual openness to other disciplines within the social sciences and beyond. CPE, for its part, has been concerned to defend its rationale and consistency from the challenge issued across the social sciences by the phenomenon of globalisation. The boundaries have consequently been drawn primarily with reference to levels of analysis, resulting in often excessively rigid demarcations between them, and excessively caricatured portrayals of the state-centrism of the comparative tradition, on the one hand, and the systemic, structuralist biases of IPE, on the other. In other words, establishing disciplinary identities has led frequently to an over-eagerness to reject the frameworks and questions of the ‘other’ branch of political economy rather than engage constructively with them. Efforts to build bridges between IPE and CPE have thus frequently, and unfortunately, been deemed to fall between two (or more) stools, at least to the extent that most scholarly journals and academic conferences seek to define their intellectual constituencies.