Apart from the pleasure of reading Marxist vocabulary which I had more or less ignored since my college days (1979-80), I was amazed that the Regulation School had more or less identified the same problems and come to the same solutions that are mentioned elsewhere in this blog. The regulation approach is concerned with the way in which social relations are maintained and reproduced despite and through their conflictual character. In any social relations, there are sub-groups who are dominant and those who are not, and the latter would like to change the rules of the game. The social procedures and authority structures for the linked modification of norms are called forms of regulation.
An example of the regulatory approach would be to ask why the librarians of the University of Burgundy keep accepting their working conditions (see previous blog) and don't revolt.
Thus, accept for point 2, which we may also need study, the discourse and reasoning which lead to acceptance of conditions of being dominated, of having to accept conditions, which many in the rest of France do not have to bear, would form the subject of the Regulation Approach. There is a French law which allows people to stop work if the inside temperature falls to below 12°C. Therefore, there is a limit placed. But there is no French law on the maximum temperatures which have to be supported.
Coming back to Alain Lipietz, here is a summary of his overview of the problems of the developed world (I'll skip the terminology sections). Remember, he is in 1984 !!!!
The Fordist model worked well for the thirty Glorious years (1945-75) because productivity increases were matched by wage increases which in turn led to consumption demand increases and profitability, which led to capital accumulation and investments. Thus, a balance had been found in the growth of returns to capital and to labor.
The cause of the Fordist crisis was that productivity growth was reduced. This reduced profitability. This reduced investments. This reduced employment. This reduced consumption.
One way out was to internationalize and increase exports by setting up free trade zones such as the EU. But this internationalization led to pressure on the wage rate. The constraints on growth of wages meant that consumption of domestic goods fell (if imports went up). If all countries do the same, in the hope of recovering from exports, it means all over EU wages are not keeping up with productivity. This means inadequate consumption at the EU level.
A second way out was to export the Fordist model to other countries (NICs). They could then manufacture according to Fordist models and import OECD capital goods. This Peripheral Fordism meant that the problem was postponed by issuing Euro dollars: the Americans continued to consume thanks to credit. There were minor gains in productivity in the US and slowdown of capital accumulations. When credit stopped, the crisis emerged because the NIC were no longer able to pay the high interest rates. So monetarism was finally rejected and Reagan went back to Keynes: tax and defense spending to bring the economy back. Household consumption went up.
A third hope is whether technology and new innovation (in electronics) be able to raise productivity and profitability and solve this problem? The problem is that profitability alone is not enough. It has to be accompanied by mass consumption growth. This growth requires employment and wage increases. Otherwise, the increased productivity will lead to some well-paid skilled labor, others stagnant wage earners and increase in unemployment.
This means that consumption will not increase and recession will continue. One way would be to reduce the working hours massively and modify the wage relation.