From fragmentation to integration: on the role of explicit hypotheses and economic theory in Global Political Economy1

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  • 1 University of Helsinki, Finland
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IPE is in need of critical self-reflection. A large proportion of scholars have rejected the Open Economy Politics framework, which has dominated American IPE since the late 1990s. While new, unconventional research, both in the US and especially elsewhere, often tackles crucial questions in imaginative ways, we argue that critical IPE is yet to address fully the two key deficiencies from which it has arguably suffered from its very beginning. These deficiencies are the paucity of economic theorisation and the lack of philosophical depth. In this paper, we seek to strengthen the case for the following four claims: (1) there is a limit to how far IPE can go without addressing explicitly the problems of economic theory; (2) mainstream economics remains largely insulated from the concerns of social scientific IPE, but there are several economic theoretical traditions from which such IPE can draw explanatory insights and hypotheses; (3) systematic engagement across research traditions requires an explicit metatheoretical framework such as critical social scientific realism or pragmatism; and (4) IPE should illuminate structures, mechanisms and processes that are not confined by state borders or limited to nation-state interactions. A well-known corollary of (4) is that the field should be called World or Global PE rather than IPE.

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