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Measuring Change of Capitalist Varieties: Reflections on Method, Illustrations from the BRICs

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How to indicate institutional diversity and gradual change in capitalist political economies? What is the appropriate typological method, how could a suitable typology look? In the Weberian tradition, this article pleads for a method that rigorously distinguishes ideal types from empirical cases. Ideal types (like liberal capitalism) idealise reality by emphasising certain aspects, cases (like Brazilian capitalism) are hybrids more or less approximating the types. Contrasting static classifications that do not allow for gradual change, the latter has to be understood as the movement of cases in the field between the types. Using the state–economy and capital–labour relationships as criteria the article proposes a typology consisting of liberal, statist, corporatist, meso-communitarian and patrimonial types. Liberalism, statism and particularly patrimonialism are relevant for emerging economies. In the second half, the article illustrates its methodological recommendation by indicatively mapping institutional change from 1998 to 2008 in political economies that recently gained importance: the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China), Turkey and a few Eastern European ones. It turns out that most of them liberalised but that this change was rather modest in the BRICs, while it was more significant in Eastern Europe. Yet statism and patrimonialism appear still to be strong.
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Keywords: BRICs; capitalist varieties; gradual institutional change; ideal types versus cases

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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