Has Political Economy to be Moral: The Debate Between Convention and Régulation Theory

Saturday, June 25, 2016: 10:45 AM-12:15 PM
166 Barrows (Barrows Hall)
Robert Alain Boyer, Institut des Amériques, France, Vanves, France
Does the coordination between actors need an explicit agreement based upon a shared conception of social justice or are the institutional forms that shape individual behaviors the outcome of conflicts where by dominant actors finally impose their conceptions? The presentation proposes to confront these two conceptions, here represented respectively by the (French) convention school and the régulation theory. On one side both agree that institutions considered to be fair make economic activity less conflicting and finally more efficient. The post WWII fordist regime is a good example of the benefits of democracy upon economic dynamic efficiency. Nevertheless, on the other side, quite unfair socioeconomic regimes might be quite resilient. After all, the apartheid regime lasted several decades and autocratic States, both in Latin America and East Asia have frequently been the driver of modernization and rapid economic growth. Various stylized facts borrowed to comparative economic history, labor economics, experimental psychology will be mobilized in order to assess the complex relationships between social justice and economic efficiency. Basically, any moral conception is deeply embedded into a web of social relations that have themselves the expression of past conflicts, where winners have the ability to impose their conceptions of fairness. For instance, in liberal market economies, the process of socialization tends to diffuse the habitus that consider that any market allocation is fair, whereas in social democratic configurations, economic outcomes are viewed as combining a mix of merit and luck. These observations seem to confirm more régulation than convention theory, but the latter is right when pointing out that in the long run widely unfair socioeconomic regimes have been evolving toward a form of democratic organization. This last regime provides an equal treatment of citizens, i.e. a form of procedural justice.