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Types of Political Economy ( With History, Theories, and FAQs)

The answer to the question “What is political economy?” can aid in your understanding of individuals, organizations, markets, and nations. The study of production, trade, and their interaction with governmental functions is known as political economy. As a social science, it concentrates on the relationships between people, governments, and public policy as well as the study of political economists. Consider a scenario in which a nation implements a public policy. How this new policy may affect the country’s economy and long-term goals could be studied by a political economist.

This suggests that political economists assess situations after considering both political and economic factors. For instance, they would begin by comprehending the political structure of a nation before analyzing a company’s place in the economy. The following blog contains all the necessary information about political economy. 

What Is Political Economy?

Political economy is an interdisciplinary subject of social science that deals with the relationships between the government, society, people, and its markets. Political economy draws on tools and techniques from various disciplines, including political science, sociology, and economics. Political economy is defined as studying a country’s administration or governance in terms of political and economic factors. Thus, the study of a country’s control of its markets and population can be referred to as a political economy. 

The political economy significantly impacts domestic and foreign markets since politics and economics have a sizable mutual influence. Since they both influence governance, they are seen as equally important. 

History and Development of Political Economy

The French economist and writer Antoine de Montchrestien is arguably best known for coining the term “Political Economy”. In 1615, he published a book titled “Traité de l’économie Political” in which he analyzed the value of distributing wealth and productivity on a far bigger scale than Aristotle had suggested instead of within the household. The book also examined the relationships between politics and the economy.

Further, Adam Smith, a Scottish economist, philosopher, and author, is frequently regarded as the founding father of economics and the political economy. In his first book, “The Theory of Moral Sentiments”, he discussed how the free market functions to self-regulate. Classical economic theory was influenced by his most well-known work, “The Wealth of Nations”. Future economists viewed it as the cornerstone for their field of study.

In addition, John Stuart Mill also played a role in the development of political economy.  He suggested that to make better political judgments for the benefit of the populace, economic theory, philosophy, and social awareness were required. He became one of the most significant characters in politics and economics because of several of his works, such as “Utilitarianism, Principles of Political Economy, and A System of Logic”.

Understanding Political Economy 

Political economy researches how the population and the government of a country interact when public policy is implemented. Consequently, it is the outcome of the interplay between politics and the economy and serves as the foundation for the field of social science.

Those who study political economy are known as political economists. They typically examine how public policy, the political environment, and political institutions affect a country’s economic standing and prospects through a  political, sociological, and economic lens.  Political economy is crucial in assessing how public policy affects societies and individuals.  Economics does not take into account social or political variables, whereas political economy focuses on the analysis of markets from a political and social perspective.

Importance of Political Economy

Political economy examines the interaction of politics and economics.  Economic policy frequently changes in a nation as political parties take and regain power following their ideologies and objectives. Numerous economic sectors can be impacted by political developments, which in turn may have an impact on elections and governmental initiatives. These regions consist of:

  • Fiscal and monetary policy
  • International  trade
  • Food security
  • Demand and Supply
  • Labor Crisis
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
  • Wealth Inequality
  • Disaster management
  • Environmental sustainability

Politics in one nation can have a significant impact on the economics of another as more economies become intertwined due to globalism and international trade. Other nations can forecast the effects on their economy by comprehending the connection between political influence and economic choices in one country. Additionally, political economy knowledge can increase a nation’s economy’s resiliency. Regardless of shifting political power, the government leaders in charge at any one time can attempt to enact laws and policies that increase the likelihood of economic stability and growth.

Types of Political Economy

There are three types of political economy: Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism, the following is the explanation of each;

1) Capitalism

Capitalism is the private ownership of production and distribution. Individuals and groups have the power to determine product prices and the laws of supply and demand in a capitalist economy. For instance, a producer may set a fair price for their goods while taking demand into account. Individuals can also be the owners of capital assets like mines, factories, and railroads.

Profit-making and aggressive competition are given priority in capitalism. Customers have the option to choose their levels of investment, production, and consumption. For instance, investors may look into more significant financial opportunities, and workers can change occupations to get paid more. In capitalist economies, the functions of governments are restricted mainly to upholding the law and defending the rights of citizens. Opportunities for economic growth are often provided by capitalism.

For Example: Taiwan is a capitalist economic country and the largest producer of semiconductors in the world. United Kingdom (UK) is a  business-friendly country, its capital economy is one of the top in the world. United States (US), its economic freedom has declined over the years but corporate independence makes it one of the largest capitalist economies in the world. 

2) Socialism

Socialism is a political economy that advocates for societal control over and regulation of production and distribution. It promotes central economic planning and public or social ownership. For instance, in a socialist economy, the government would finance public education and healthcare while also regulating access to these services. Depending on the results of research investigations, the government may also decide on output and product prices.

Socialism promotes economic security and equality to lower social classes. The equitable distribution of resources and the production of goods and services for use rather than profit are also covered. Socialism is practiced in many nations, which eliminates market competition.

For Example: the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is the second-largest economy in the world and has maintained a socialist market economy. The Healthcare cost of 95% population is covered through public insurance programs. As compared to state-owned companies, private-owned companies contribute 60% of the GDP of the country. Cuba is a socialist economy, the public receives subsidies for healthcare, food, and housing from the government. 

3) Communism

In communism, all property is owned by the population as a whole, and each person contributes and benefits based on their particular needs and capacities. This economy aims to create a stronger sense of neighborhood and a classless society. As an illustration, a group of people could jointly operate a company that processes food. While many nations practice socialism and capitalism, others choose the advantages of communism.

For Example: the Soviet Union and North Korea are examples of communist economic systems. 

Theories of Political Economy

Multiple historical and contemporary theories have influenced political economy. Let’s examine the contemporary political economics theories in more detail,

1) Marxism 

Marxist economic theory opposes the private ownership of resources. According to Marxism, private ownership contributes to economic inequality. Marxist economists see capitalism as a setback for people and society. This philosophy places a strong emphasis on turmoil in society, class conflict, and power disparities. It focuses on how capitalism affects labor, economic development, and productivity. It promotes communism as opposed to capitalism.

2) Liberalism

This idea emphasizes how land, labor, and capital are essential components of any economy that produces goods or services. This political philosophy supports minimum government intervention and free market capitalism. In plain terms, it advocates privatization and supports individual economic independence.

3) Economic Nationalism

Economic nationalism is the idea that the state has absolute authority and that people should labor to profit from it economically. According to the concept, the government should be in charge of all resources because people lack knowledge and are unable to forge coherent societies on their own. By taking into account both the political and economic issues connected to each, political economy helps us comprehend how a country and household are managed and governed.

Learn Political Economy With the Best Diplomats

We may better develop policies, make wise economic choices, and work toward a more just and prosperous future by exploring the different types of political economy. By doing so, we get a greater understanding of the forces that govern our world. Best Diplomats is an international platform providing excellent opportunities for learning politics and other political concepts including soft power, diplomacy, and foreign policy. You can take part in the conferences of Best Diplmats by registering yourself. 



The study of political economy is extremely important because it offers a thorough framework for comprehending the complex interactions between governance procedures and economic systems. Political economy sheds insight on the variables that affect wealth distribution, social advancement, and general societal well-being by examining how political structures, beliefs, and power dynamics drive economic policies and outcomes. The complexity of the rise of globalization, growth and development, income disparity, and the role of the state in market economies are also explored in this multidisciplinary topic.


What are the three concepts of political economy?

Capitalism, communism, and socialism are the three different concepts of political economies. Resources are owned by the state or society in communism and socialism, whereas in capitalism, private individuals are the owners.

What does a liberal political economy look like?

Economic liberals frequently follow a political and economic theory that supports a balanced budget and a restrained fiscal policy by enacting policies like low taxes, reduced government expenditure, and reduced government debt.

What is the importance of the political economy approach?

It examines how politics and the economy interact. Voters and interest groups have a significant influence on almost every economic policy that is conceivable. Political economists work to identify the pertinent groups, their interests, and how political institutions influence how they influence policy.

What is the political economy classical theory?

The notion that free markets can self-regulate is frequently linked to classical political economy. Economics was reoriented by classical economists and their direct forebears away from an analysis of the personal interests of the rulers and toward broader national objectives.

What is International Political Economy (IPE) and why is it critical in international relations?

The study of how politics affects the global economy and how the global economy affects politics is known as the international political economy (IPE). IPE places a lot of emphasis on the distributive effects of international trade. 

By connecting political actors from different nations to global economic connections, they build on some of the ideas and theoretical frameworks of the many IR theories. The latter, economic interactions, are based on markets, which serve as the hub for trading based on supply and demand.

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