Re: [OPE] Are Regulation Theorists Marxists?

From: Jurriaan Bendien <>
Date: Thu Aug 20 2009 - 02:53:50 EDT

Regulation theory originated with Michel Aglietta's "A theory of capitalist
regulation", republished by NLB/Verso in 2001. It was strongly influenced by
Althusserianism and Althusser's theory of social reproduction.

See further Robert Boyer (ed), Regulation theory: the state of the art.
Routledge, 2002.

Many regulationists would regard themselves as Marxist, others are more

Alan Freeman wrote an interesting paper on it once - he said (roughly) the
regulationists are concerned "with what holds society together, rather than
what is making society break up", in other words regulationists are
concerned with how (by what mechanisms) capitalist society resolves its
crises, and modifies itself. It's a kind of leftwing
structural-functionalism, linked to a left-reformist political project.

Marx to my knowledge did not subscribe to a "labour theory of value" and
never said he did, if anything he had a value theory of labour and capital.
If we continue to use the reference to Marx's LTV, this is only a kind of
shorthand. Marx was well aware that the value of many assets in society were
not, or not directly, determined by labour-time, even if Marxists still
don't understand this.

The theoretical cause of regulationism is that Marx did not provide a theory
of capitalist society as a whole, and of the state, nor of the consumption
of use-values, but only a fairly abstract picture of the capitalist mode of
production as a unity of production and circulation of commodities.

There are various schools such as "social structure of accumulation",
"regulationism", "long wave theory", "Unoist stages theory", "Stamocap
theory" which aim to make sense of specific historical epochs in the history
of capitalism and their distinctive social characteristics. Aglietta
popularised the notion of "Fordism" which eventually gave way to

These theories of historical epochs are intermediate between the short-term
perspective and the long-term perspective, between immediate reality and the
general theory of capitalism.


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Received on Thu Aug 20 02:55:59 2009

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