“Does capitalism (still) come in varieties?”, Colin Hay (Sciences Po, France)

Colin Hay. “Does capitalism (still) come in varieties?” Review of International Political Economy. July 2019. Online.

That capitalisms vary and that these capitalisms neatly resolve themselves into distinct and discrete ‘varieties of capitalism’ is an almost foundational claim of contemporary comparative political economy. Yet it is far from evident that it is true. In this article, I return to the varieties conjecture, assessing the degree to which the claim might be warranted. In the process, I argue for the importance of differentiating clearly between ideal types and real types and for the value of heeding Weber’s advice about the dangers of confusing one for the other. I suggest that although capitalisms do not really come in varieties it is sometimes useful to proceed on the basis that they do, particularly if we think of such varieties as potentially dystopic. I suggest that such an acknowledgement is crucial in sensitizing us to the potential biases of varietal thinking, drawing out the implications for the positing of capitalist varieties in the period after the global financial crisis

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