How to Study Contemporary Capitalism?
Wolfgang Streeck (2012).
European Journal of Sociology, Volume 53, Issue 01, April 2012 pp 1-28
The paper argues that contemporary capitalism must be studied as a society rather than an economy, and contemporary society as capitalist society. Capitalism is defined as a specific institutionalization of economic action in the form of a specifically dynamic system of social action, with a tendency to expand into, impose itself on and consume its non-economic and non-capitalist social and institutional context, unless contained by political resistance and regulation. The paper illustrates its perspective by four brief sketches, depicting contemporary capitalism as a historically dynamic social order, a culture, a polity, and a way of life. All four examples, it is claimed, demonstrate the superiority of a longitudinal-historical approach over static cross-sectional comparisons, and of focusing on the commonalities of national versions of capitalisms rather than their “varieties”