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The Revue de la régulation celebrates its tenth anniversary!

Cet article est une traduction de :
La Revue de la régulation fête ses 10 ans !

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1The Revue de la régulation (Regulation Review) is currently celebrating its tenth anniversary! There again, if we were to include the earlier publication the Année de la régulation (Regulation Year), which was also produced by the ‘Recherche & Régulation’ association, this year’s celebrations would honouring twenty years of publications.

2The study of economic policy in China presented in this issue is totally representative of these first ten years. It bears witness to the successful outcome of the challenge we set ourselves, namely to edit and sustain an academic review devoted to political economy that, although largely inspired by regulationist and institutionalist approaches, nevertheless also accepts contributions from all those wishing to exchange ideas with them. It also identifies some of the challenges that have to be faced.

3The study devoted to the special form of capitalism that is evolving in China today was prepared by Robert Boyer, the co-founder of the Theory of Regulation and the review of the same name, in association with Sébastien Lechevali of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Economiques et Sociales (EHESS), as indicated in the introduction. Ten years down the road after the initial launch of the Review, a study of this kind gives an insight into both the past and present reality of the review and of our research community. Without the slightest doubt, the way the studies are elaborated, often under the leadership of members of the editorial committee in collaboration with one or more researchers from outside, is a key factor of the scientific style of the review.

4This particular study is areal in conception. Although this not a general rule, it is clear that many studies and articles are organised according to areal considerations, notably those concerning Latin America (n°11), thus highlighting the need to produce analytical research based on and inseparably linked to socioeconomic reality. The study is devoted to the current frontiers of the changes in capitalism, as illustrated to perfection by China with its process of economic expansion and recomposition. Furthermore, a study of Chinese capitalism is particularly well suited to the inclusion of international contributions and the juxtaposition of differing disciplinary approaches, both of which have been major features of the development of the Review since the very beginning. In more general terms, internationalisation figures in the editorial policy of the Review in the form of the publication of articles in French and English, summaries in three languages, the presence of contributors of several nationalities from several countries and is also denoted by the fact that our readers come from more than a hundred different countries, which represents a vast readership – more than 25 000 individual visitors each month – that continues to grow at a regular rate.

5When one looks again at the last ten years of publications, one cannot fail to be struck by the vigour of the work that went into the production of the studies, which are a regular feature of our issues. It is of course feasible that those who evaluate our publication may see fit to criticise the exclusive use of thematic issues, on the grounds that overall quality is likely to be less than when articles are submitted individually. Let it first be said that in fact the Review does not publish thematic issues but thematic studies contained in issues carrying a variety of articles. It should then be underlined, and the contributions to the Review will surely be in a position to confirm, that the anonymous rapporteurs who are contacted are just as rigorous as the members of the editorial committee, and maintain standards just as high as those of the committee when evaluating the proposals submitted to them, whether or not they form part of a study as such. ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child’ perhaps, but above all, the key element that transpires from these ten years of publications is the joint concern to respect high standards of conceptual rigour, which sometimes leads to minor critical detours, and to backing up theory with reference to a particular area or set of facts, which may or may not be stylised. All the articles published reflect the necessary articulation between the rigorous conceptual construction needed in order to grasp the salient aspects of contemporary forms of capitalism and the empirical analyses capable of providing material proof of the propositions.

6This is indeed a fundamental feature of the heterodox approach so dear to the Revue de la régulation, over and above its basic attachment to regulation theory: the studies do not claim to provide a comprehensive overview of all the themes they evoke, but rather aim to produce solid representations integrating economic and social interdependence and thus both to stimulate discussion of the diverse approaches to these themes which may be possible and to sustain the treatment of problems needing to be confronted and re-discussed. It is equally true of the study based on and around the thinking of Elinor Ostrom (n°14) and of those devoted to monetary contestation (n°18), to the sector of health and agriculture (n°17 and 20), the studies comparing post-Keynesian approaches with regulation theory (n°10 and n°16), the two Asia studies (n°13 and n°15), etc. These studies stand as benchmarks of the current state of research on a particular subject, but in view of the inevitable divergence between the approaches pertaining to which contributions were invited, they also constitute platforms for scientific discussion opening up the field to new considerations and new research projects.

7This is one of the reasons why, after ten years of existence, it is possible to supply an answer to a question which often gives rise to discussion, significantly within research evaluation bodies when they examine the case of the Revue de la régulation, namely, “Is it a review representing a current of thought, and if so how many divisions does it embrace?”

8Would it be forward of us to claim that if we consider this to be a good thing, the Review does indeed represent a current of thought, but if we look at the downside, the Review endeavours not to do so? The Revue de la régulation represents a current of thought in the broad sense of economic theory, by its name, by the way in which it defines itself, by its founding team and by a certain number of its shared references (which are also subjects of discussion, as was seen with the debates we published on Marx and the notion of value). Its inclination to do so comes of mistrust for pre-elaborated analyses and of its constant concern to refer to the history which is in the making and to the economic and social structure of the balance of power. The Review represents a current of thought in the sense that its editorial committee insists on the methodological dimension of the theoretical approach, on the necessity of expliciting the contexts of the analysis and on constantly calling into question the categories to which it is seen as desirable to apply the observations. This is a major requirement because the realities examined are by nature in a state of perpetual upheaval. The Revue de la régulation must therefore continually incorporate new conceptual ideas. If we are to adapt this elastic and pluralistic acception, which is compatible with a high degree of plasticity in its statements, then you have before you a review which can be said to represent a current of thought.

9On the other hand, there are many arguments claiming that the Review does not represent, no longer represents or has never represented a current of thought in the strict sense. That is probably the main difference in editorial policy compared with its predecessor, the Année de la régulation. Articles based solely on a regulationist approach are in the minority and many contributions are based on other approaches or currents of political economics or even socioeconomics. The same thing applies to the reading committee composed of men and women involved in research who come from different currents of thought and diverse subject areas. We would like to take the opportunity offered by this anniversary to thank them again: a review is of course the work of an editorial committee and a scientific committee, but it cannot function autonomously without a pool, which must be as extensive as possible, of competent and scrupulous rapporteurs who devote much time and energy to enabling the reflections of the contributors to be carried forward. May we also thank the Review’s editorial secretaries, successively Anaïs Paly et Cécilia Monteiro, together with the MSH-Paris Nord and for their indispensable support for the work of the editorial and scientific committees, which is above all a collective operation, hence its strength and its fragility?

10Let us now return to the contents of the Review. Some of the studies are marked by a tradition of thought and raise questions denoting a clear attachment to regulation theory. This is the case for the study on financial norms and standards (n°3/4) and more recently the one on the major transformation of agriculture for example (n°20). But here the link with regulationist analysis is not exclusive and entails critical comparison with other approaches, notably those of a conventionalist character. Another example is the study of post-Keynesian approaches and regulation theory (n°10), which is oriented towards critical interrogation and exchanges with the neighbouring currents of thought that complete the spectrum of macroeconomics, academic debates rich in cross-fertilisation. Some of the studies are based to a large extent, not to say totally, on other currents of thought. This is the case of the study of coherent stock-flow modelling which turns its attention to post-Keynesian macroeconomics (n°16). The study of the political economics of the health sector (n°17) serves as a platform for discussion between the heterodoxies of applied economics, social economics, the approaches of regulationist and conventionalist economics and also the social sciences of the health sector, sociology and political science. The study around the work of Ostrom (n°14) is clearly not essentially regulationist in nature, even though it includes the work of certain writers who adopt a regulation approach. It is, more fundamentally, a platform for scientific discussion of Elinor Ostrom’s approach and of the institutionalist interpretations that can be applied to it. The main feature interviews published in each issue also bear witness to this desire for dialogue, not only within France, but also, and more importantly, at an international level, with other theoretical, empirical and disciplinary perspectives. The interviews occupy a major place in terms of size – often fifteen pages or so – and offer an opportunity to revisit the professional career and contributions of the researcher, who is both the subject of the discussion and the interviewee, and to engage in a dialogue on regulationist thematics. They are also of major importance in view of the stature of those interviewed: Jean-Pierre Dupuy, Bob Jessop, Geoffrey Hodgson, Janos Kornai, Marc Lavoie, André Orléan, Bertram Schefold, Wolfgang Streeck, to name but a few.

11The same observations can be made with regard to the articles published individually or in the context of a debating forum, or concerning the critical reading notes in the Review: this work bears witness to the diversity of the themes and theoretical approaches referred to in the publication. It is undoubtedly inappropriate to endeavour to take one or other of the articles to pieces here in order to identify the relation between its lineaments and the regulationist perspective. The essential principle governing the contents of the Review can be expressed in one single statement: the heterodox proposals and analyses – which can be termed ‘institutionalist political economics’, if preference is to be given to a less defensive formulation – are all allowed access to the platform of free expression, provided they satisfy the criteria related to the production of evidence that it is normal to expect of a scientific contribution.

12From there we will now return to the initial question. Does the Revue de la régulation represent a current of thought? The reader is invited to judge, and to see which of the regulationist, institutionalist or heterodox currents is really concerned. If it did not, from a certain point of view, represent a current of thought, the Revue de la régulation would not exist; but if it did only that, it would be superfluous to appeal to the reader’s discernment in this way. The editorial committee of the review has practised a federative and pluralist approach from the beginning. By ensuring the diversity of the institutional approaches represented and the thematic areas covered, they have created a review of political economics which is generalist in nature. But if we examine its contents in more detail, it can be seen to have established itself, from issue to issue, as a review devoted to research on the established and evolutive forms of capitalism. By announcing the term “capitalism” (alongside “power” and “institutions”) in its subtitle, it identifies itself as an organ of political economics receptive to behavioural and methodological hypotheses which contradict and go beyond those of mainstream economic thought, whilst at the same time offering alternatives that are both both robust and enriching. In this respect the Review highlights and promotes interdisciplinary discussions within the social sciences, which constitutes a decisive factor for the renewal of knowledge, in contrast with the overwhelming majority of standard economics reviews, which make scant reference to the other social sciences (Fourcade, Ollion, Algan, 2015).

13Another interesting exercise might be to count the number of sociologists, geographers, management scientists, lawyers, political scientists and anthropologists who have provided contributions to the Review over the last decade. There are a lot of them, and we are delighted that this is the case. This opening out to other disciplines is also to be found in the editorial committee and the scientific council themselves. Not only do these bodies incorporate economists well used to interdisciplinary dialogue, but they also include a significant number of sociologists, demographers and political scientists working in the areas covered by the economic analysis. The practice of interacting with other social sciences is is indeed one of the essential aspects of the construction of a heterodox political economics team. A similar approach is taken, with an acception close to our own, by another review which has also become a reference in its field, namely the Revue Française de Socio-Economie (French Review of Socioeconomics). We would like to take the opportunity to congratulate this review, which is also celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. The work performed by its members is considerable, notably that of Florence Jany-Catrice, who is standing down as editor-in-chief. The specific difficulty for an economics review of organising rigorous exchanges between social sciences according to scientific standards is, in our view, rewarded by the possibility to bring about the rapprochement of seeming differing phenomena and to establish distinctions between those that appear similar but are not in fact identical. This is, as we see it, one of the most significant achievements of the twenty issues published so far.

14Let us conclude by what we consider to be inadequacies, which can be taken as the wishes we desire to express for the future. Although the issue of salary ratios and their evolution was one of the initial considerations of the founders of the regulationist approach, the Review has so far received relatively few proposals in this thematic area. We need to return to it in the near future in order to remedy this lack. Similarly, the inclusion in political economics of environmental issues constitutes a thematic area which is both fundamental and insufficiently explored in our Review. Gender issues have not yet been featured, but this will be soon be addressed by a call for papers. These, then, are some of the thematic areas to which our committee wishes to direct its energies in the future: the forthcoming decade of the Revue de la régulation will certainly not suffer from any lack of projects.

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Fourcade M., Ollion E., Algan Y. (2015), “La Superioridad de los economistas”, Revista de Economia Institucional, Vol. 17, n°33, p. 13-43.

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« The Revue de la régulation celebrates its tenth anniversary! », Revue de la régulation [En ligne], 21 | 1er semestre / Spring 2017, mis en ligne le 02 octobre 2017, consulté le 17 octobre 2017. URL :

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