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  • Author: Fritz W. Scharpf
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: In order to be simultaneously effective and liberal, governments must normally be able to count on voluntary compliance – which, in turn, depends on the support of socially shared legitimacy beliefs. In Western constitutional democracies, such beliefs are derived from the distinct but coexistent traditions of “republican” and “liberal” political philosophy. When judged by these criteria, the European Union – if considered by itself – appears as a thoroughly liberal polity which, however, lacks all republican credentials. But this view (which seems to structure the debates about the “European democratic deficit”) ignores the multilevel nature of the European polity, where the compliance of citizens is requested, and needs to be legitimated by member states – whereas the Union appears as a “government of governments” which is entirely dependent on the voluntary compliance of its member states. What matters primarily, therefore, is the compliance-legitimacy relationship between the Union and its member states – which, however, is normatively constrained by the basic compliance-legitimacy relationship between member governments and their constituents. Given the high consensus requirements of European legislation, member governments could and should be able to assume political responsibility for European policies in which they had a voice, and to justify them in “communicative discourses” in the national public space. This is not necessarily true of “non-political” policy choices imposed by the European Court of Justice. By enforcing its “liberal” program of liberalization and deregulation, the ECJ may presently be undermining the “republican” bases of member-state legitimacy. Where this is the case, open non-compliance is a present danger, and political controls of judicial legislation may be called for.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Government, Politics, Political Theory
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Patrik Aspers
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to analyze the making of markets. The paper identifies two ideal-typical processes in which markets are made – organized making and spontaneous making – which are often combined in reality. Organized making is defined as a process in which at least two actors come together and decide on the order of the market. There are two ways of organized making of markets, called “state-governed market making” and “self-governed market making.” Spontaneous making is defined as a process in which the market is an unintended result of actors' activities. The attention sociologists have paid to the issue of market making has been directed largely at organized market making. This paper develops a sociological approach that integrates both spontaneous and organized market making, and identifies three phases of market making. This involves a discussion of empirical cases, and seven hypotheses are presented that make predictions for the two types of market making. The paper provides theoretical tools for studying the making of markets in history, as well as in our own time. Finally, a number of conditions are presented that must be in place if there is to be a market.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy, Political Theory
  • Author: Jens Beckert
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: What alternatives to rational choice theory do exist to explain economic phenomena? I argue that American pragmatism presents a viable alternative for the explanation of key economic incidences. First I illustrate the foundations of pragmatism using three problems regularly encountered in action theory. Then I show how innovation, institutional change, price formation and actors' preferences can be analyzed based on pragmatist premises. I conclude by reflecting on why pragmatism has found so little recognition in economics.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Political Economy, Political Theory
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Christoph Deutschmann
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: I address the "growth miracle“(William Baumol) of modern capitalism. The central point is that the historically unique social dynamics of modern capitalism cannot be conceptualized satisfactorily by theories of “economic growth”; instead, the explanation requires a genuinely sociological approach. The first part of the paper gives a critical summary of the existing modernization-theoretical approaches and outlines an alternative theoretical perspective which is based largely on the interpretations of money by Simmel and Marx. The second part delivers a multi-level approach of capitalist dynamics which culminates in the construction of three growth scenarios, one positive and two negative ones. These scenarios could contribute to illuminating the background of the actual economic crisis.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Political Theory, Sociology
  • Author: Wolfgang Streeck
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Based on a talk presented at the University of Göttingen in a lecture series on the use of scientific advice for public policy, the paper discusses what the social sciences in particular can contribute to policy-making. Nomothetic theories, which scholars often believe to be the highest achievement of their disciplines and which contribute most to a scholar's reputation, seem to be least useful for policy. Explanations of past events are usually not of interest to policy-makers; predictions are hardly possible in the social world; and the technical application of social theories to influence social behavior or change social conditions (“social engineering”) is and remains by and large utopian. By comparison, descriptions of social reality by counting, measuring and observing social facts can be of considerable political use. Furthermore, while social science will never be able to replace the intuition of the experienced practitioner or relieve him of having to make responsible decisions under high uncertainty, it can help him to understand better the experiences of the past and the possibilities of the future and free himself at present from powerful myths as to what is the case, what is possible, and what is impossible. Finally, the social sciences, this time including their more theoretically oriented branches, may exercise a powerful long-term influence on policy since their debates, although they may sometimes appear merely academic, may shape the cultural self-description of society, and with it the basic ideas informing the actions of future generations of voters and decision-makers.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Political Theory, Sociology, Culture
  • Author: Jens Beckert
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The paper takes a theoretical look at the current financial and economic crisis, drawing on existing theories on crises of capitalism. I develop the thesis that the theories of “ungovernability” and “late capitalism” were wrong in locating the origins of crises in contemporary capitalism only indirectly in the economy. The theory of late capitalism, however, rightfully pointed out that the state cannot reduce its influence over the economy without endangering the functioning of markets themselves. This is due less, however, to the difficulty of maintaining loyalty, i.e. political support for the capitalist system than to the more immediate challenge of sustaining the preconditions for the system's economic viability. Today, a theory of the crises of capitalism must devote much more attention to the intrasystemic preconditions of the economic system.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Theory, Financial Crisis
  • Author: Gary S. Schaal, Claudia Ritzi
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The theory of deliberative democracy has strongly influenced philosophical work on democracy over the past twenty years. On at least a theoretical basis, deliberative democracy offers a promising way to improve both the legitimacy and the quality of political decisions at once. This prospect has motivated political scientists and politicians all over the world to implement and analyze a multitude of deliberative forums at all levels of the democratic decision-making process. But the question remains: Can real deliberations fulfill the promise of the theory? Empirical research on deliberation may provide the answer. In our paper, we first discuss the challenges that such studies present to deliberative theory. We then take a critical look at the empirical work that has been done so far on verifying deliberative democratic theory. Comparing different studies on this topic can be quite a frustrating experience, because their results tend to be disparate and sometimes even contradictory. We argue that in order to improve this situation, empirical scientists should pay more attention to the subjects of deliberation. For example, we believe that one of the keys to a successful deliberative process lies in how the topics of the discourse are framed.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, Political Theory
  • Author: Wolfgang Streeck, Sandra Mitchell
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The object world of the social sciences is complex, historical and self-reflexive. It generates nonlinear effects, it is unique, and it is able to understand the theories developed about it and respond to them intentionally. Recognizing the emergent, historically contingent and self-organizing nature of the social world, and developing responsive policy vehicles for managing its complexity, requires a shift in our conception of science in general and of economics in particular.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Science and Technology, Political Theory
  • Author: Wolfgang Streeck
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The paper is an expanded and revised version of a lecture given at the 2008 Annual Colloquium of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (MPIfG). Its subject is the relationship between social theories and political-economic change. The paper's central claim is that theories of society can by nature be fully understood only if related to and interpreted in the horizon of action of a virtual user located in the social world that is being explained. This is illustrated with reference to the development of political macrosociology since the Second World War. Next, five tendencies in today's social sciences are briefly discussed, all of which seem to indicate growing uncertainty about the practical usefulness of basic research in social science, in light of the demise of the democratic nation-state: the transition from Steuerungstheorie to research on “governance”; the departure from participatory models of democracy; the rise of economics to academic and political hegemony; a functionalist, efficiency-theoretical turn in theories of social policy; and growing doubts about the usefulness of a scientistic model of theory. In the final section it is suggested that the social sciences might find new theoretical orientation and practical self-confidence by defending in public discourse its fundamental insights on the limits of a market-driven organization of social life.
  • Topic: Democratization, International Political Economy, Political Economy, Political Theory
  • Author: Wolfgang Streeck
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The dissolution of the standard employment relationship since the 1970s has been paralleled by a destabilization of family relations. The paper, which is a slightly revised version of a plenary lecture at the 2008 Meeting of the German Sociological Association, discusses possible connections between the rise of more flexible labor market and family structures, and explores how they might tie in with the declining birth rate. The co-evolution of labor markets and family relations can be explained by both the attractions and the constraints of free markets. The current shift toward a new social policy aimed at increasing fertility is presented as an example of how expanding market relations and the uncertainty to which they give rise in personal life cause demands for state intervention. The logic seems remarkably similar to that of the current banking crisis, where the liberation of financial markets from traditional constraints and the progressive commodification of money have ultimately issued in irresistible pressures on the state to step in and restore the social commons of stable expectations and mutual confidence. In both cases, and perhaps generally, capitalism seems to imply a need for a public power capable of creating substitutes for social relations invaded by market relations and as a consequence losing their capacity to perform some of their previous functions.
  • Topic: Government, Markets, Political Economy, Political Theory
  • Political Geography: Germany