Institutional Transformation in European Political Economy - A Socio-Legal Approach (ITEPE)
The objective is to develop a socio-legal theory explaining the institutional transformations from corporatism over neo-corporatism to governance and the role of law and legal instruments within the three types of institutions. The period of investigation covers the period between 1850 and today and is limited to the European setting. The core hypothesis is that corporatism, neo-corporatism and governance fulfil identical societal functions under altered structural conditions insofar as they are simultaneously oriented towards the internal stabilisation of economic processes and the establishment of compatibility with non-economic segments of society. The successful fulfilment of this dual function is furthermore conditioned upon a reliance on formalised legal frameworks. The project specifically wishes to provide an alternative to the a-historical nature of contemporary governance research; counter the lack of a dynamic perspective within the ‘varieties of capitalism’ approach; offset the reductionist stance of political economy studies as reflected in the narrowing of economy and society relations to the binary relationship between economy and politics; develop a theoretical framework capable of connecting a wide range of hitherto disperse academic discourses such as governance research, political economy and socio-legal studies; provide a central contribution to a new inter-systemic theory of society. The project contains detailed case studies in relation to the development of institutional stabilisation within the European automobile, steel and pharmaceutical sectors.