Some institutional approaches in political economy are founded on the assumption that changes at the macrolevel—in the law, in consumer demand, in inflation, in wealth distribution, or in technologies— need not be described with any specific reference to actors (Thelen and Steinmo 1992). In other words, they see no need to attend to the processes of social interaction that underlie the macrodevelopments they observe.
The recourse to the distribution of power resources, for instance, explains individual decisions and collective outcomes (Hall and Taylor 1996; Korpi 1985). Other approaches in political economy do focus on the microfoundations of economic dynamics, but assume that actors are rational agents or that they follow cognitively determined scripts (Hall and Taylor 1996; Korpi 1985; Mc-Dermott 2004; Shepsle 2006). Capitalist development stands at the center of political economy, and it is the topic addressed in this book.
However, the book does not provide a new structural explanation of capitalist dynamics, nor establish a more refined rational actor theory, behavioral approach, or power resource model. Rather, it explores how macrodynamics are anchored in social interaction and interpretations of social reality. In this sense, it draws insight from those strands of economic sociology that focus on the interactional level; however, unlike most of this scholarship, here it is only a starting place in an attempt to understand and explain the broader question of capitalist dynamics.