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The Political Economy of Civil Society

Pabst, Adrian, Scazzieri, Roberto (2012) The Political Economy of Civil Society. Constitutional Political Economy, 23 (4). pp. 337-356. ISSN 1043-4062. (doi:10.1007/s10602-012-9127-2) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:37467)

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The dichotomy between intended and unintended outcomes of individual and collective action is central to political economy. It concerns the relationship of markets and states and their link to the constitution of society. As such, this dichotomy points to the patterns of connectivity that provide the social embedding of markets and states. The present paper argues that civil society is best understood as the principal locus of connectivity in which markets and states operate. Civil society so configured is neither separate from the body politic and commercial society nor subordinate to them but instead constitutes the primary objective structure of the social domain. It embeds the causal arrangements that determine the crisscrossing of both intended and unintended outcomes in specific contexts.

Within the social domain, dispositions of the means-end type interact with non-instrumental dispositions. One important implication is that civil society is compatible with a range of different political economies and specific socio-economic arrangements. Based on a typology of three distinct paradigms of civil society, we argue that the proximity paradigm is conducive to the discovery of political economies that foster greater openness and specificity compared with the political and the economic paradigm.

This paper suggests that the theory of civil society in general and the proximity paradigm in particular are indispensable heuristic tools to identity the unrealized capacities inherent in any given social configuration. A proximity heuristic is applied to the discussion of credit arrangements and policy. We conclude that a hierarchy of policy principles is necessary to preserve both the primacy of social connectivity over means-end relationships and also the need for context-specific arrangements and policy options.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1007/s10602-012-9127-2
Uncontrolled keywords: • Political economy • intended and unintended outcomes • social connectivity • civil society • proximity paradigm • economic policy principles
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Adrian Pabst
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2013 18:00 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:14 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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