Jonas Pontusson, “From comparative public policy to political economy: Putting political institutions in their place and taking interests seriously,” Comparative Political Studies 28 (1995), pp. 117-147.

(Is largely a book review of two volumes.)

 

Key point: although state/political institutions do matter, we must also examine the underlying structures that shape the configuration and operation of political and economic institutions. Studies of comparative political economy must attend to a range of variables, such as factor endowments and the concentration of capital, that cannot be characterized as institutional variables. While institutions constrain individuals, how they constrain individuals cannot be determined without reference to structural features that do not qualify as institutions.

 

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*political economists should go beyond the comparative study of advanced capitalist states or industrial relations to engage in the comparative study of advanced capitalism. This involves paying more systematic attention not only to economic institutions but also to a range of economic-structural variables that lie beyond the conventional confines of institutional analysis.

**this approach has two major merits: first, it serves to uncover structural power relations; and second, it provides the a basis for an analysis of economic interests and the forces that shape them.

***these considerations enable us to get a better handle on the politics of institutional change and also shed significant light on how existing institutions operate and why their effects sometimes change over time.