E Pluribus Unum? Varieties and Commonalities of Capitalism

MPIfG Discussion Paper No. 10/12

49 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2011

See all articles by Wolfgang Streeck

Wolfgang Streeck

Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies

Date Written: October 15, 2010


The paper reviews the origins of the comparative study of capitalism and of the diverse approaches applied to it in contemporary political economy. It distinguishes four models accounting for differences in the institutional make-up of national capitalist economies, which it refers to as the social embeddedness, power resource, historical-institutionalist, and rationalist-functionalist odel, respectively. Special attention is given to the rationalist-functionalist account of capitalist variety and its reception in the research literature. The paper concludes with remarks on the likely effect of the global financial crisis after 2007 on theories of political economy in general and of “varieties of capitalism” in particular. It argues that in future the commonalities and interdependencies of national capitalisms deserve and are likely to receive more attention than their differences.

Keywords: Varieties of capitalism, study of capitalism , social embeddedness, power resource, historical-institutionalist model, rationalist-functionalist model

JEL Classification: P100

Suggested Citation

Streeck, Wolfgang, E Pluribus Unum? Varieties and Commonalities of Capitalism (October 15, 2010). MPIfG Discussion Paper No. 10/12, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1805522 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1805522

Wolfgang Streeck (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies ( email )

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Cologne, 50676

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