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Varieties of Capitalism and Capitalism « tout court »

  • Dorothee Bohle (a1) and Béla Greskovits (a2)

The article reviews the “Varieties of Capitalism” (VoC) approach and its large impact on the field of comparative political economy. It situates the approach within the field, and stresses its specificities. The article argues that VoC's firm-centeredness, parsimony, and reliance on conceptual tools borrowed from economics, fit better than other approaches to a Zeitgeist formed in the context of the demise of Western capitalism's alternatives, and the globalization-induced shift of societies’ center of gravity away from politics towards firms and markets. The article then revisits major debates that have followed the publication of the seminal Hall-Soskice book. The debates have revealed that VoC's greatest strengths, in the end, turn out to be obstacles when it comes to analyzing problems of contemporary capitalism.


L'article revient sur les textes de l'approche Variétés du capitalisme qui a eu un impact important en économie politique comparative. La focalisation sur l'entreprise, le caractère rudimentaire et l'emprunt d'outils conceptuels aux économistes conviennent bien à l'esprit d'un temps (Zeigeist) où l'on a renoncé à chercher une alternative au capitalisme occidental et où, globalisation aidant, le centre de gravité des sociétés se déplace du politique vers la firme et le marché. Vient ensuite une revue des grands débats qui ont suivi la publication du livre pionnier de Hall et Soskice. Finalement, les éléments forts de l'approche VoC se sont révélés des obstacles à l'analyse des problèmes du capitalisme contemporain.


Der Artikel gibt einen Überblick über den einflussreichen „Varieties of Capitalism” (VoC) Ansdentz. Er verortet ihn im Feld der vergleiche den politischen Ökonomie und argumentiert, daß der Fokus auf Unternehmen, die scheinbare Einfachheit und Eleganz der Argumentation, und die breite Anwendung von aus der Ökonomie entliehenen Konzepten einem wissenschaftlichen Zeitgeist entspricht, der von dem Zusammenbruch der Alternativen zum westlichen Kapitalismus und von Globalisierung und der mit ihr einhergehenden Verschiebung gesellschaftlicher Machtzentren in Richtung Unternehmen und Märkte geprägt ist. Im zweiten Teil befaßt sich der Artikel mit einigen Debatten, die der Ansatz ausgelöst hat. Der Artikel fragt auch, inwieweit VoC in der Lage ist, Globalisierung, europäische Integration und neu entstehende Kapitalismusvarianten zu erfassen. Diese Debatten machen deutlich, daß die Stärken des VoC Ansatzes sich in Hindernisse verwandeln, wenn Probleme des gegenwärtigen Kapitalismus analysiert werden sollen.

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Bruno Amable , 2003. The Diversity of Modern Capitalism (Oxford, Oxford University Press).

Alice Amsden , 2001. The Rise of “the Rest”. Challenges to the West from Late-Industrializing Economies (Oxford, Oxford University Press).

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Peter A. Hall and David Soskice , eds., 2001. Varieties of Capitalism. The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage (Oxford, Oxford University Press).

Martin Höpner , 2005. “What Connects Industrial Relations with Corporate Governance? Explaining Complementarity”, Socio-Economic Review, 3 (2), pp. 331-358.

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Herbert Kitschelt , Peter Lange , Gary Marks and John Stephens , 1999. “Convergence and Divergence in Advanced Capitalist Democracies”, in H. Kitschelt , P. Lange , G. Marks and J. Stephens , eds., Continuity and Change in Contemporary Capitalism (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press).

Mark Knell and Martin Srholec , 2007. “Diverging Pathways in Central and Eastern Europe”, in David Lane and Martin Myant , eds., Varieties of Capitalism in Post-Communist Countries (Houndmills, Palgrave, pp. 40-64).

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Robert Wade , 1990. Governing the Market: Economic Theory and the Role of Government in East Asian Industrialization (Princeton, Princeton University Press).

Stewart Wood , 2001. “Business, Government, and Patterns of Labor Market Policy in Britain and the Federal Republic of Germany”, in Hall Peter A and David Soskice , Varieties of Capitalism (New York, Oxford University Press, pp. 247-277).

Wolfgang Streeck and Kathleen Thelen , 2005. Beyond Continuity: Institutional Change in Advanced Political Economies (Oxford, Oxford University Press).

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European Journal of Sociology / Archives Européennes de Sociologie
  • ISSN: 0003-9756
  • EISSN: 1474-0583
  • URL: /core/journals/european-journal-of-sociology-archives-europeennes-de-sociologie
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