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Working Paper 172


In this work we intend to review from a critical perspective the ‘patrimonial capitalism’ approach, as well as its analysis of wage-labor transformations in developed economies during the last thirty years. For this purpose, we take the economies of France and the United States as study cases. According to this approach (developed by the French Regulation School and other adjacent authors), patrimonial financialization of working households has involved a radical transformation of the wage-labor nexus, paradigmatically exemplified by the concept of employee shareholding. We will try to point out what we consider weaknesses of this approach, theoretical as well as empirical. Furthermore, we focus on an alternative interpretation that characterizes the nature of wage-labor nexus transformation in the French and US economies as a wage adjustment. This wage adjustment, as we observe in our work, is the result of the neoliberal policies developed to restore capital profitability after the crisis of the 1970s, and has caused an erosion of salary and social conquests attained by labor after the Second World War. Finances have acted as a lever of social reorganization among classes to achieve the objective of profitability recovery.

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