regulation theory

views updated

regulation theory A loose-knit body of empirically oriented, political-economic theory that originated in France in the 1970s, as part of the general effort then being made to overcome the limitations of Marxism's economic reductionism. According to what is sometimes referred to as the Parisian School, the concepts necessary to overcome this reductionism are the following: ‘regime of accumulation’, which refers to the organization of consumption as well as that of production; ‘mode of growth’, which relates the regime of accumulation to the international division of labour; and ‘mode of regulation’, which refers to the national and international, institutional, and ideological framework which facilitates the reproduction of particular regimes of accumulation and modes of growth. The best-known claim made by the regulationists is that the use of these concepts enables one to distinguish two successive modes of regulation in the history of twentieth-century capitalism—fordism and post-fordism.

Representative works in English include Michel Aglietta , A Theory of Capitalist Regulation: The U.S. Experience (1976, trans. 1979)
; Mike Davis , Prisoners of the American Dream (1986)
; David M. Gordon,, Richard Edwards,, and and Michael Reich , Segmented Work, Divided Workers: The Historical Transformation of Labour in the United States (1982)
; and Alain Lipietz , Mirages and Miracles (1987)