Keywords: Political Economy, Social and Material Interdependencies, Economic Interests, Systemic Interest, Economic and Industrial Policy
This article outlines a route to reconnect political economy to the original themes of the discipline, and specifically the complex relations between the objectives of (individual and collective) actors in a polity on the one hand, and the material and social interdependencies that influence the pursuit of those objectives on the other hand. The article highlights the heuristic value of economic theories of interdependencies for i) identifying the internal structure of constraints within a political-economic system; and ii) reconstructing the partial interests of specific sectors or social groups and their weight in determining collective actions. In this light, the article analyses the relations between partial interests and systemic interest. Unlike the usual understanding of collective interest, the systemic interest associated with a set of interdependencies expresses the multiple ways in which the partial and sometimes diverging interests of individuals or groups may be compatible with the viability of the system as a whole. This approach is illustrated in the context of the material and social interdependencies that characterise the political economy of the Eurozone. In this connection, the essay shows that a focus on «intermediate aggregates» (as opposed to the usual macro and micro levels of analysis) may be necessary for identifying effective measures of economic and industrial policy.