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Putting the "Amsterdam School" in its rightful place: a reply to Juan Ignacio Staricco's critique of cultural political economy

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>04/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>New Political Economy
Issue number3
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)342-354
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date13/02/17
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article responds to Staricco’s critique of cultural political economy (CPE) for being inherently constructivist because of its emphasis on the ontologically foundational role of semiosis (sense- and meaning-making) in social life. Staricco recommends the Amsterdam School of transnational historical materialism as a more immediately productive and insightful approach to developing a regulationist critique of political economy. Both lines of criticism of CPE are addressed. First, Staricco misinterprets the implications of treating semiosis and structuration as ontologically equal bases of social life. Second, Staricco mistakes our criticisms of the ‘Italian School’ in international political economy for criticisms of the Amsterdam School – an approach we have always warmly endorsed. He therefore misses our more nuanced claim that, while the Amsterdam School emphasizes the importance of semiosis, it has fewer concepts to explain how semiosis matters and why only some imagined class identities and concepts of control are selected, retained, and institutionalized. CPE addresses this lacuna by integrating critical semiotic analysis into political economy. Third, we provide the first detailed comparison of the Amsterdam School and CPE to provide a better understanding of the merits of each approach and to indicate where they might complement each other without claiming one to be superior to the other.