Capitalism, the regulation approach, and critical realism1
This chapter addresses the role of realist assumptions and arguments in the regulation approach and describes some of its implications for critical realism more generally. The regulation approach is a evolving research programme that offers a very interesting and fruitful way to analyse the interconnections between the institutional forms and dynamic regularities of capitalist economies. As regulationist concepts have become common academic currency and regulationists have become increasingly concerned with more middle-range issues in comparative institutionalism, the original methodological concerns of the pioneer regulationists tend to be forgotten. In Marxian terms, capital as a social relation becomes a 'definite' object of regulation. The chapter considers some aspects of the early regulation approach that provide important challenges to critical realism. Karl Marx introduced the concept of 'structural causality' to designate what critical realists would call the hidden inner structure of capitalism as the generative mechanism of its phenomenal forms and surface movement.