This article re-interprets and develops Polanyiâ��s substantive institutionalist analysis of capitalist market economies and the market society in the light of two more recent approaches to the same issues. These are the Parisian â��regulation schoolâ�� on contemporary capitalism and systems-theoretica l accounts of the modern economy. All three regard the capitalist economy (or, for autopoietic systems theory, the market economy) as an operationally autonomous systemthat is nonetheless socially embedded and needful of complex forms of social regulation. For each, an adequate account of economic activities should explore how they are related to the wider social environment; how they are embedded in a wider nexus of social institutions ; how the latter assist in reproducing the capitalist (or market) economy; and how their development is coupled to that of these and other environing institutions . There are also some important differences among these approaches, however, which enable an exploration of their respective limitations and also provide useful bases for further theoretical and empirical research. Thus, after presenting these three perspectives on the institutedness and embeddedness of economies. I consider some basic problems in analysing the improbable stability and reproducibility of the capitalist economy, paying particular attention to governance and meta governance.
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, New Political Economy, 6 (2), 2001, © Informa Plc