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Editorial

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Éditorial

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1Although not a single-topic issue of the journal, a thread does connect the various contributions to the current issue of the Régulation review. In fact, this issue reaffirms the links between the journal and a number of broader conversations and themes that lie at the heart of regulation theory. This is especially true of the critical issues of value and sustainable development, but it is equally valid in terms of our efforts to maintain dialogue with the currents of thought and authors involved in a range of contemporary debates.

2The jointly authored article by Luc Elie, Bertrand Zuindeau, Ali Douai, André Meunié, Mamoudou Camara, and Mathieu Bécue on the diversity of institutional environmental systems of the OECD opens a discussion that supports a regulationist approach to environmental policy. Their contribution resituates the research agenda within a landscape that contains neoclassical and other forms of institutionalism, particularly the analysis of the varieties of capitalism, pursuing a line of argument developed by Bruno Amable. The article follows studies concerning sustainable development that are central to efforts to characterize a new system.

3Although it does not directly address institutional systems, the contribution by Marie Dervillé, Perrine Vandenbroucke and Gilles Bazin also examines instituted mechanisms, in their case in order to describe the formation of sectorial regulations.

4The contributions of Matthieu Montalban and Claire Pignol review the approaches to value developed by André Orléan, exploring two diametrically opposed perspectives: Marxist and neo-Walrassian approaches. The article simultaneously provides proof of the importance of Orléan’s book and the journal’s pluralism. Claire Pignol’s interpretation sheds new light based on a history of neoclassical thought that has not previously been represented in the Régulation review. Her remarks relate to the first part of the Orléan’s book and interrogate the author’s relationship with Walrassian theory. She contends that neo-Walrassian models have a strong capacity to take the motives that underlie behaviors previously limited to the most heterodox analyses such as desire and altruism into account. It is nevertheless worth asking whether this renewed neo-Walrassian formalization and capacity to incorporate criticisms fully enable this approach to integrate such social questions. Do they in fact have the potential to yield an approach to value that is not substantial but is constructed on social relations? Indeed, this is perhaps the core of Orléan’s critique of Walras. For his part, Matthieu Montalban extends prior discussions initiated by Jean-Marie Harribey and André Orléan. For Montalban, Orléan’s studies diverge in particular from the early arguments of regulation theory, at a time when it engaged with the theory of labor as value.

5This tension reflects some confusion among a number of readers (marxists) of regulation theory with regard to a conception of value that initially appears to be distant from their fundamental views in terms of the importance that it grants to desires and beliefs. The review by Thomas Lamarche of a book by Stravos Mavroudeas, Limits of Regulation, which is highly critical of regulation theory, also reveals how this distance between regulation theory and marxism has been constructed over time. In the case of this book, this divergence is fueled by misinterpretation, even ignorance, of the evolution of regulation theory over the past two decades. Further reading along these lines can be found in Bob Jessop’s position as a friend and “informed outsider,” as he phrases it, of regulation theory, but primarily because he has crafted a far better-documented and more open interpretation of discussions between different schools of thought.

6In resonance with discussions of value and the foundations of political economy, Pierre Alary provides new perspective on a major book by Polanyi, The Livelihood of Man: Studies in Social Discontinuity, finally translated into French by Bernard Chavance, who added a highly consequential preface of his own. The Livelihood of Man proposes a general theory of interdisciplinary human economy based on a radical critique of classical naturalism and neo-classical rationalism. Polanyi offers a new model in which the economy and how it is defined address the fundamental question of man’s subsistence: The hegemony of the autonomized economic exchange, guided by profit, is but a page of history and has no claim to be universal. Polanyi’s posthumous book should join the bookshelf of classic works in supporting a general theory of economy in history and society.

7In his review of L’État social by Christophe Ramaux, Richard Sobel reframes the author’s tripartite project, which seeks to understand the Social State and to defend it in spite of the crisis and neo-liberal attacks, and whose ultimate objective is to create a mode of thought proper to the Social State that he claims institutionalist political economy has failed to develop.

8Several contributions are centered on the firm. At the intersection between law and economics, Virgile Chassagnon seeks to reconsider the firm as a real entity by critiquing the nexus of contracts approach. Mehdi Nekhili and Moufida Labadi assess the impact of the rights accorded to employees concerning the division of value added between stockholders and other stakeholders in a firm. They also demonstrate the effect of the structure of firms’ property and the number of employee representatives on power relations between employees and stockholders. Exploring the example of telecommunications, Cécile Cézanne and Marianne Rubinstein investigate how systems of social responsibility can serve as instruments of firm governance in a way that complements the stockholder governance model.

9Finally, Nadine Levratto and Evelyne Serverin offer new perspectives on the status of the auto-entrepreneur (a French government program offering legal and fiscal status to small individual enterprises) by referring to the theory of firms and its legal implications. They conclude that the auto-entrepreneur program is credible when considered within the context of supplementary work activity, but that it is counter to company-based approaches and does not ultimately enable individuals to engage in business.

10We wish to add a word about the website of the Régulation review, which is now completely bilingual (French-English), further testament to the journal’s international scope.

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« Editorial », Revue de la régulation [En ligne], 12 | 2e semestre / Autumn 2012, mis en ligne le 29 janvier 2013, consulté le 25 juillet 2017. URL : http://regulation.revues.org/10029

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