Theorising competition regulation: a critical political economy perspective
This chapter outlines the theoretical perspective underpinning the analysis of the politics of six decades of competition regulation in Europe. It begins by spelling out the ontological assumptions of this perspective and explicating the ensuing theoretical implications. Section two conceptualises competition as a central feature of capitalism and as a phenomenon with both positive and negative societal consequences. Section three presents a novel perspective on competition regulation, which links the regulation of competition to capitalist market regulation more generally. It highlights that the content, form and scope of competition regulation is never given beforehand, but always discursively shaped, refl ecting, albeit imperfectly, social power relations. Section four addresses the importance and nature of classes and class fractions, whilst section fi ve links the preferences of such fractions to different discourses of competition regulation. The fi nal section conceptualises states and supranational institutions, highlighting the degree of operational autonomy they enjoy.