Economic theories of state or ‘economics imperialism’: Rent-seeking analysis as an exemplar

Galip L. Yalman

Abstract


‘State’ and ‘market’ are concepts so grossly abused that they have almost lost their heuristic value as analytical categories. They have also come to symbolise not only alternative strategies of capitalist development, but also rival premises upon which hegemonic strategies were to be developed. In the era of neoliberal hegemony, it has been contended that a ‘theory of state’ is required so as to make up for the deficiencies of the mainstream economics. This study focuses on the antinomies of an influential attempt to develop an economic theory of politics, namely, the rent-seeking analysis. It highlights the fact that the concept of the state as a neutral guarantor of contractual relations is no more than a ‘mental construct’, hardly relevant to account for the phenomena in question, but one which would be instrumental in providing the circumstances conducive for the ‘rational economic man’ to operate according to the assumptions of a particular model. This, in turn, indicates the need for conceptual categories to come to terms with ‘collective action’ in ways in which theories premised on individualistic foundations and/or limited by empiricist epistemologies could not provide.

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