ABSTRACT

Although not central in the literature on Comparative Capitalisms (CC), the case of China is highly salient. This is not just because of the country’s sheer size and international economic influence, but also because the Chinese political economy can provide fertile ground to theorize on aspects of CC that are widely recognized to pose challenges. I employ the analytical framework of Sino-capitalism to demonstrate the importance of an open and evolutionary approach. Specifically, Sino-capitalism centres on state-centric modes of governance interacting dialectically with bottom-up networked modes of entrepreneurship exposed to market forces and global capital. The dialectic evolutionary quality of Sino-capitalism contrasts with the more static comparative approaches in most of the CC literature. China’s emergent capitalism forces the observer to open up the black box of capitalist evolution and ‘bring back in’ classical approaches to studying political economy. Capitalist political economies are thus conceived of as encompassing different politico-economic spheres, each with its own logic. Leveraging the analytical framework of Sino-capitalism for the continued theoretical development of CC elucidates in this manner the architectonic role of the state, the chronic re-composition and rebalancing of the institutional spheres of state and capital, and the existence of contradictory cum symbiotic politico-economic logics that reproduce capitalism.