Regulation Theory (from the 1970s)

Regulation theory developed during the 1970s, in the milieu of French economists and sociologists associated with economist Michel Aglietta. It has been influenced by Antonio Gramsci's reflections on the theory of hegemony, although it has also taken up cues provided by the structuralism of Louis Althusser and others, and by the methodology and the sociological and historiographical investigations of the Annales School. Regulation theory examines problems concerning the political and economic regulation of capital's compulsion to accumulate. The enactment of regulation is not, however, limited to the state or certain power blocs; ideological and cultural issues are also taken into consideration.

The development of regulation theory has seen the emergence of two major currents: a more institutionally oriented approach associated with Robert Boyer, and the approach pursued by Aglietta and French economist Alain Lipietz. The latter has been a major influence on the development of Marxist theory. Important exponents of regulation theory include Bob Jessop in the UK and Joachim Hirsch in Germany. An overview of issues that have played an important role in the German debate is provided by a 1992 anthology whose contributors include Alex Demirovic and Thomas Sablowski: Hegemonie und Staat: kapitalistische Regulation als Projekt und Prozess ("Hegemony and the State: Capitalist Regulation as Project and Process").