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Introduction: Political economy and global capitalism

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Abstract

The intellectual impetus for this volume is the abiding interest of its editors in promoting in-depth, cutting-edge analysis of the current global political economy in order to advance a political economy of more equitable, humane, eco-sensitive global futures. In meeting this challenge, the contributors of this book develop distinctive and original theoretical frameworks and propose new mediations between theory and history, which is a deeply problematic relationship in the social sciences. Put differently, this volume offers theoryinformed writing which contextualizes empirical research on current worldhistoric events and trends with an eye towards realizing a future of human socio-economic betterment. We view this project as a sequel to an earlier collection, edited by Albritton, Itoh, Westra, and Zuege, Phases of Capitalist Development: Booms, Crises, and Globalizations. Like with that well-received volume, we have gathered internationally recognized contributors who are based in diverse countries and write from different conceptual perspectives within the critical political economy tradition broadly understood. The key difference between the earlier and current volumes, however, is their respective orientations to time and location in time. While the previous work focused on periodizing capitalism and theorizing its successive world-historic phases to understand the present, the current project focuses on the present in order to better inform our reflections on possible or likely global futures. Moreover, whereas all the essays in the previous volume were written during or prior to the year 2000, this collection captures the momentous transformations of the global political economy, and its leading economies, in the intervening years.