Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 April 2020
The law of political economy is a contentious ideological field characterised by antagonistic relations between scholarly positions which tend to be either affirmative or critical of capitalism. Going beyond this schism, two particular features appear as central to the law of political economy: the first one is the way it epistemologically seeks to handle the distinction between holism and differentiation, i.e., the extent to which it sees society as a singular whole which is larger than its parts, or, rather, as a mere collection of parts. Different types of legal and political economy scholarship have given different types of answers to this question. The second feature of the law of political economy is the way in which it conceives of the relation between hierarchical and spontaneous dimensions of society, i.e., between firms and the market, or between public institutions and public opinion. The two distinctions can, however, be overcome through a third-way, emphasising the strategic role of law in mediating between holism and differentiation and hierarchy and spontaneity. This is demonstrated through a historical re-construction of the evolution of corporatist, neo-corporatist, and governance-based institutional set-ups of political economy.