New Political Economy, 22(3) pp 342-354
This article responds to Staricco’s critique of cultural political economy (CPE) for being inherently constructivist because of its emphasis on the ontologically foundational role of semiosis (sense- and meaning-making) in social life. Staricco recommends the Amsterdam School of transnational historical materialism as a more immediately productive and insightful approach to developing a regulationist critique of political economy. Both lines of criticism of CPE are addressed. First, Staricco misinterprets the implications of treating semiosis and structuration as ontologically equal bases of social life. Second, Staricco mistakes our criticisms of the ‘Italian School’ in international political economy for criticisms of the Amsterdam School – an approach we have always warmly endorsed. He therefore misses our more nuanced claim that while the Amsterdam School emphasises the importance of semiosis, it has fewer concepts to explain how semiosis matters and why only some imagined class identities and concepts of control are selected, retained, and institutionalised. CPE addresses this lacuna by integrating critical semiotic analysis into political economy. Third, we provide the first detailed comparison of the Amsterdam School and CPE to provide a better understanding of the merits of each approach and to indicate where they might complement each other without claiming one to be superior to the other.