The Politics of Economic Activity

ISBN : 9780198788157

Andy Smith
208 ページ
153 x 234 mm

The Politics of Economic Activity confronts head-on deeply rooted understandings of how politics affects economics. The book proposes a robust, incisive alternative definition of politics: the mobilization of values to change or reproduce the institutions that orientate, and indeed make possible, economic activity. Drawing upon constructivist strands of institutionalism, political sociology, and industrial economics, this definition generates an analytical framework for understanding the 'political work' that constantly orientates the behaviour of both firms and public authorities. Specifically, a fundamental tension between the values of freedom and security is consistently examined. This is analysed by looking at conflicts within the definition of these two values, but also by examination of mobilizations of two subordinate values: equality and tradition. A hypothesis examined throughout the book's empirical chapters is that equality and tradition play either supporting, intervening, or silent roles within the freedom-security relationship that structures contemporary capitalism. Structured around controversies concerning the politics of economic activity at the global, European, national and local scales, the book examines the pharmaceutical, wine, local food, and car industries, as well as cross-cutting policies concerning issues such as regulating labour markets and inter-firm competition, geographical indications, and local economic development. Overall, the book's aim is to advocate a mode of thinking and research which challenges orthodox and dominant approaches to economics and its politics. It does so by placing a politics that is comprehensible, and therefore both 'studyable' and 'actionable', back at the centre of reflection about the economic and the political.


Introduction: A Fresh Look at the Politics of the Economic
1 What's Political About the Economic? The Limits of Existing Responses
2 The Politics of Economic Activity: An Analytical Framework
3 Globalization: From Runaway Steamroller to Political Outcome
4 Does the EU Make a Difference?
5 What's Left for the State?
6 Local Government: Economic Saviour or Gravedigger?
7 Conclusion


Andy Smith is a Research Professor in Political Science at the Centre Emile Durkheim, University of Bordeaux, and is a specialist in political economy and European integration. He has authored and co-authored numerous books and articles such as Varietals of Capitalism: A Political Economy of the Changing Wine Industry (co-authored with Xabier Itcaina and Antoine Roger, 2016, Cornell University Press), The EU's Government of Industries (co-authored with Bernard Jullien, 2014, Routledge), and Politics and the European Commission (2004, Routledge).