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  • Author: Laura Einhorn
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Studies from various disciplines show that including more meat-free dishes in our diets benefits our environment and our health while also promoting animal welfare. However, little is known about what encourages the adoption of more meat-free meal choices into our everyday diets. This paper focuses on the role of normative social influence on food choice as a potential answer to this question. In a real-world setting and based on the combination of a field and a survey experiment in seven German university dining halls, I analyze the impact of social norms on meat consumption in a single meal choice situation. I distinguish between descriptive and injunctive norms as well as between remote and direct norms. In a first step, descriptive and injunctive remote norm message interventions promoting a vegetarian diet were implemented. In a second step, the influence of direct social norms, i.e., the influence of vegetarian peers on non-vegetarians’ meal choice, was assessed. I find that neither type of remote eating norm influences food choice, while direct normative influence leads to con- vergence towards vegetarian meal choices in a university setting. I summarize the implica- tions of these findings, discuss their limitations, and point to directions for future research.
  • Topic: Food, Culture, Academia, Dietary Habits
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, Central Europe
  • Author: Tobias Arbogast
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: This paper examines the ownership structure of eurozone public debt and the distribu- tional consequences thereof. Through both a comparative perspective and an explorative case study of Italy, this paper asks two research questions. Firstly, it asks who holds gov- ernment debt in Spain, France, Germany, and Italy. I focus in on Italy to provide, to the author’s knowledge, the first highly disaggregated view of the holding structure of public debt. Secondly, for Italy I study distributional effects by examining who benefits from the interest received on government debt. This is accomplished through an investigation of the various stakeholders associated with public debt. Results indicate that most of the public debt is held by private and public financial institutions but rarely directly by households. Both direct and indirect beneficiaries of the interest received on government bonds in Italy turn out to be largely wealthy households, reflecting the unequal ownership of wealth more generally. However, prominent public financial institutions are also significant beneficiaries, which likely ameliorates a possible regressive distributional effect of the public debt hold- ing structure. The paper discusses the results with an eye on inequality and contributes to further study of the political economy of public debt.
  • Topic: Debt, Inequality, Financial Institutions , Public Debt
  • Political Geography: France, Germany, Spain, Italy
  • Author: Jens Beckert, Timur Ergen
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: This paper discusses sociological analyses of the formation and role of expectations in the economy. Recognition of the social constitution of expectations advances the understand- ing of economic action under conditions of uncertainty and helps to explain core features of modern capitalist societies. The range of applications of the analytical perspective is il- lustrated by closer examination of three core spheres of capitalist societies: consumption, investment, and innovation. To provide an idea of core challenges of the approach, three major research questions for the sociological analysis of expectations are presented.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Sociology, Capitalism, Innovation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Chiara Benassi, Niccolò Durazzi, Johann Fortwengel
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Why do skill formation systems put SMEs at greater disadvantage in some countries than others vis-à-vis large employers? By comparing vocational education and training (VET) institutions and their differential effect on firms of different sizes across three countries (UK, Italy, and Germany), we show that the design of VET has profound implications for shap- ing the ability of SMEs to use institutions as resources. In particular, quasi-market institu- tions in the UK amplify SMEs’ disadvantage, while non-market coordinating institutions in Italy and Germany narrow the gap between SMEs and large employers. By unpacking the comparative disadvantage of SMEs, we offer important nuances to the argument that institutions help firms coordinate their business activities in different varieties of capitalism.
  • Topic: Political Economy, Capitalism, Vocational Training
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Germany, Italy
  • Author: Gregory Ferguson-Cradler
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Electricity is a key area in climate mitigation. The sector needs to significantly expand while transitioning to renewable production, all in an extremely short timeframe. This paper fo- cuses on ownership and control in the electricity sector in an era of climate change. Bor- rowing substantially from classical American Institutionalism, heterodox theories and his- tories of the firm, and legal institutionalism, this paper discusses the historically constituted nature of the categories of property, capital, and the firm and how these literatures provide helpful frameworks for analyzing the recent history and possible futures of electricity sec- tors. A short discussion of the recent history of the German electricity sector, particularly the large utility RWE, will briefly illustrate the approach. Climate change mitigation will require revised notions of ownership and an updated theory of the firm, property, and cor- porate governance for the Anthropocene.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Governance, Electricity
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, Central Europe
  • Author: Paul Beckman, Barbara Fulda, Sebastian Kohl
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Traditional predictors of election outcomes in Germany are increasingly losing their explana- tory power. Rather than new cultural divides, this paper introduces the idea of housing cleav- ages, i.e., homeownership versus tenancy and high-price versus low-price areas, drawing on macro data for electoral districts and urban neighborhoods from the last three elections (2009– 2017) in combination with Immoscout24 ad price data and microdata from the ALLBUS sur- vey (1980–2016). Although, due to its low homeownership rate and conservative house price development, Germany represents a least-likely case for housing to be of importance, we find housing effects beyond traditional predictors. Generally, we find that high house prices, house price increases, and homeownership are positively associated with voting for center-right par- ties and voter turnout, while social tenancy is associated with votes for the left, but these effects weaken over time due to embourgeoisement effects. Beyond this expected left-right distinction between tenants and wealthier homeowners, we also find outliers along two other dimensions. First, there are center-periphery effects that housing can better capture than simple geographical divisions; second, house prices contain a populist dimension, for example when skyrocketing rents increase votes for the urban left or regions where house prices lag behind benefit the AfD. The paper argues against the more causal self-interest and socialization theories of the influence of housing on voting and instead suggests considering housing as an important socioeconomic proxy to explain political outcomes.
  • Topic: Elections, Voting, Homeownership , Housing
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, Central Europe
  • Author: Renate Mayntz
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: In the social sciences, the development of a specific social event or structure is often ex- plained by a statistical correlation between an independent variable and a variable assumed to be dependent upon it. This mode of explanation is contested by a methodology of causal reconstruction that operates with the concept of mechanisms. A mechanism is a process in which a set of linked steps leads from initial conditions to an outcome or effect. Mechanisms are general concepts, subjecting individual cases to a general category. Except for the litera- ture dealing specifically with the concept, the term “mechanism” is often used without defi- nition of its substantive content; there is no agreement with respect to the unique or plural character of the initial conditions, nor to the structure of the causal path leading to a specific outcome. Nevertheless, mechanisms have played a crucial role in detailed causal analysis of complex historical events, such as the financial crisis of 2008 and German unification of 1989.
  • Topic: Cold War, Nationalism, Financial Crisis, Unification
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, West Germany, Central Europe, East Germany
  • Author: Sidney Rothstein
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The growth models perspective analyzes the role of social blocs in crafting countries’ eco- nomic policies, but its treatment of business power as purely structural prevents it from ad- dressing an important question in the politics of digital transformation: How have new sec- tors with miniscule economic footprints been able to influence economic policy? This paper explores how tech and venture capital successfully lobbied for financial deregulation at the beginning of digital transformation in the United States. The paper argues that explaining the role of social blocs in digital transformation requires incorporating discourse analysis and develops a conceptual framework around three discursive components in the dynamics of social blocs: coordination, persuasion, and performativity. This framework contributes to theory development in the growth models perspective and illustrates how the concept of social blocs can help make sense of the politics of digital transformation.
  • Topic: Regulation, Digital Economy, Financial Institutions , Discourse
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Lucio Baccaro, Massimo D'Antoni
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Has the strategy of the “external constraint” (voluntarily limiting the country’s policy-mak- ing discretion by tying it to the European mast) contributed to Italy’s stagnation over the past twenty-five years? The existing literature is divided on this question. The dominant in- terpretation is that Italy’s stagnation is due to insufficient liberalization, and that the exter- nal constraint has had no negative and even a positive influence. An alternative interpreta- tion emphasizes the demand compression and supply-side effects of the external constraint. Based on three case studies of public debt management, privatization, and labor market policy, this paper reconstructs the process by which the external constraint has affected out- comes. It argues that it has had a negative impact, but more as a necessary condition than as a sufficient one. In other words, it would probably have been possible to manage the exter- nal constraint differently to produce better outcomes, but without the external constraint, the stagnation would likely have been less deep.
  • Topic: Political Economy, European Union, Economic growth, Liberalism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy, Southern Europe
  • Author: Lucio Baccaro, Bjorn Bremer, Erik Neimanns
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic may lead to a resurgence of the euro crisis. In this context, Italy seems particularly vulnerable: support for the euro is lower than in most other eurozone countries, and a possible exit could have serious consequences for the common currency. Based on a novel survey experiment, this paper shows that the pro-euro coalition is fragile in Italy and preferences are malleable. They are heavily dependent on the perceived costs of continued membership, as a majority of Italians would opt for Italexit rather than accepting a bailout plan requiring the implementation of austerity policies. Individuals who feel they have not benefited from the euro are most likely to support exit when faced with the pros- pect of austerity. This suggests that, differently from Greece, where voters were determined to remain in the euro at all costs, the pro-euro coalition may crumble if Italy is exposed to harsh conditionality.
  • Topic: European Union, Eurozone, Voting, Currency
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy, Southern Europe
  • Author: Martin Höpner
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Germany is an undervaluation regime, a regime that steers economic behavior towards deterioration of the real exchange rate and thereby towards export surpluses. This regime has brought the eurozone to the brink of collapse. But it is much older than the euro. It was established during the Bretton Woods years and has survived all subsequent European currency orders. The regime operates in two steps: competitive disinflation against trading partners; and resistance against correcting revaluations. The Bretton Woods order provid- ed perfect conditions for the establishment and perpetuation of the regime: it was flexible enough for sufficient macroeconomic policy autonomy to bring about differential inflation rates, and sticky enough to delay and minimize revaluations.
  • Topic: Political Economy, Regional Cooperation, Capitalism, Inflation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, Central Europe
  • Author: Mark Lutter, Martin Schroder
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Based on data that tracks CV and publication records as well as survey information from sociologists in German academia, we examine the effects of parenthood on the publication output of male and female academics. Results indicate that having children leads to a sig- nificant decline in the number of publications by women, while not affecting the number of publications by men. We also find that the gendered effect of children on productivity hardly mitigates differences in publication output between men and women, as women still publish about 20 percent less than men after controlling for the adverse effects of chil- dren on productivity. We further find that the gendered effect of childbearing depends partly on prior levels of women’s academic achievements, which suggests mechanisms of performance-driven self-selection. Lower-performing women tend to suffer a stronger motherhood penalty, while the publication output of more successful women (who have been granted academic awards) is not reduced through childbirth. The results indicate that women are better at managing the “double burden” of parenthood and career if external, award-giving committees have bestowed prestige upon them and indicated their potential for a scientific career. Overall, these findings contribute to a better understanding of how to reduce the adverse effect of children on female publication output.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Children, Women, Feminism, Academia
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, Central Europe
  • Author: John Wilkinson
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: New economic sociology (NES) in Germany has many similarities with economic sociology in the United States in its conscious efforts to institutionalize its presence within the broader sociology community, its promotion of a canon via handbooks, and its focus on the sociology of markets. At the same time, it differs in its stronger connections to the German classics, the greater vitality of a macrosociological tradition in Germany, the prior existence of a “bridging” generation of economic sociologists, and its later consolidation in a period of neo-liberal globalization, all of which have giv- en NES in the German-speaking world a distinctive character. In addition, it has been influenced by successive waves of French economic sociology – Bourdieu, convention, and actor-network theory – and its bilingual academic tradition has ensured its integration into English-speaking NES. In its contribution to the sociology of markets, the fact that NES emerged later in Germany than in the US led to a greater concern with quality markets rather than commodity markets, and a concomitantly greater attention to issues of value and price. These latter themes, in their turn, establish a continuity with German economic sociology’s enduring concern with understanding the role of money. Not surprisingly, therefore, German NES is now making key contributions to discussions on the sociol- ogy of money and is increasingly situating its analysis within the broader dynamic of capitalism and current processes of financialization.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Sociology, Capitalism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, Central Europe
  • Author: Benjamin Braun, Richard Deeg
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The financial foundation of Germany’s manufacturing success, according to the compara- tive capitalism literature, is an ample supply of long-term capital, provided to firms by a three-pillar banking system and “patient” domestic shareholders. This premise also informs the recent literature on growth models, which documents a shift towards a purely export- led growth model in Germany since the 1990s. We challenge this common assumption of continuity in the German financial system. Export-led growth, characterized by aggregate wage suppression and high corporate profits, has allowed non-financial corporations to increasingly finance investment out of retained earnings, thus lowering their dependence on external finance. This paper documents this trend and shows that business lending by banks has increasingly been constrained on the demand side, reducing the power – and relevance – of banks vis-à-vis German industry. The case study suggests a need for students of growth models to pay greater attention to the dynamic interaction between institutional sectors in general, and between the financial and the non-financial sectors in particular.
  • Topic: Banks, Exports, Institutionalism, Corporations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, Central Europe
  • Author: Renate Mayntz
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The history of a research field called political economy dates back to the eighteenth century, giving rise to a variety of disciplinary approaches, and experienced a renaissance as a mul- tidisciplinary field after the Second World War, combining economic, political science, and sociological approaches. The divergence between economic globalization and the nation- ally restricted scope of economic policy directs interest to the relationship between politics and the economy. A quantitative analysis of the articles published in two dedicated political economy journals shows major trends of the developing research field. The relationship between politics and economy is interpreted rather widely, and research is largely focused on Western capitalist nations. In conclusion, two avenues for further research in the field are briefly discussed.
  • Topic: Political Economy, Regional Cooperation, Capitalism, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, Central Europe, Western Europe
  • Author: Moises Kopper
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: How does hope emerge as a life-altering possibility against the backdrop of economic pre- carity, political disregard, and soaring inequality? This paper explores the role of hope as both a political-economic construct and an infrastructural affect in the wake of policy implementation. It draws on a five-year ethnography among community leaders, housing activists, planners, politicians, state officials, and market representatives involved in the im- plementation of Minha Casa Minha Vida, Brazil’s largest social housing program. In recent years, low-income projects have become the battleground for experimental, post-neoliberal forms of democratic governance via inclusive consumption. These public–private housing infrastructures give insight into the relationship between material hope and the making of Latin America’s “pink tide” new middle classes: how grassroots communities organize around hierarchies of worthiness to allocate wellbeing-enhancing state benefits, and how the uneven distribution of these benefits sustains the constitution of emerging, albeit tem- porary, collectives of consumer citizens.
  • Topic: Infrastructure, Neoimperialism, Citizenship, Class
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America
  • Author: Sidney Rothstein
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes discourse in the workplace in order to explain puzzling patterns of pre- carity in twenty-first century capitalism. Tech workers’ central role in digital transformation endows them with labor market power reflected by their high wages, but during economic downturns, when demand for their skills decreases, even they are vulnerable to downsizing. Comparing workers’ responses to downsizing at two sites of an American tech firm, this paper shows how management disempowers workers by framing the employment relation- ship in a financial discourse. Disposing workers to believe that their jobs are threatened by market forces beyond their control, rather than by managers’ decisions, this financial dis- course undermines labor’s established power resources by persuading workers that mobiliz- ing will be ineffective in protecting their jobs. Relying on detailed case study evidence, this paper demonstrates the importance of discourse to explaining variation in worker power. It argues that the workplace should play a larger role in comparative political economy, par- ticularly in explaining labor market outcomes related to digital transformation.
  • Topic: Labor Issues, Hegemony, Capitalism, Discourse
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Javier Garcia-Bernardo, Arjan Reurink
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: International tax competition is generally framed as states competing for foreign direct invest- ment (FDI), and analyses of the phenomenon draw heavily on FDI statistics. In and of themselves, however, FDI statistics are merely a quantification of the value of investment projects and tell us little about the heterogeneity of these projects and the distinct patterns of competitive dynamics between countries they generate. In this paper, we create a more sophisticated understanding of international tax competition by pointing out its variegated nature. To do so, we introduce the notion of the “great fragmentation of the firm” to distinguish between five categories of FDI: manufacturing affiliates, shared service centers, research and development facilities, intermedi- ate holding companies, and top holding companies. Using a novel combination of firm-level and country-level data, we identify for each category of FDI which European Union member states are most successful in attracting it, what macro-institutional and tax arrangements they rely on for doing so, and what benefits they receive from it in terms of tax revenues and employment creation. In this way we were able to identify five distinct FDI attraction profiles and show that, rather than being a game of all against all, tax competition in the European Union increasingly takes place amongst subsets of countries that compete for similar categories of FDI.
  • Topic: Foreign Direct Investment, European Union, Tax Systems
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Jens Beckert, Richard Bronk
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Dynamic capitalist economies are characterised by relentless innovation and novelty and hence exhibit an indeterminacy that cannot be reduced to measurable risk. How then do economic actors form expectations and decide how to act despite this uncertainty? This pa­ per focuses on the role played by imaginaries, narratives, and calculative technologies, and argues that the market impact of shared calculation devices, social narratives, and contin­ gent imaginaries underlines the rationale for a new form of ‘narrative economics’ and a the­ ory of fictional (rather than rational) expectations. When expectations cannot be anchored in objective probability functions, the future belongs to those with the market, political, or rhetorical power to make their models or stories count. The paper also explores the dangers of analytical monocultures and the discourse of best practice in conditions of uncertainty, and considers the link between uncertainty and some aspects of populism.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, Capitalism, Innovation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lucio Baccaro, Jonas Pontusson
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: This paper provides a historical overview of comparative political economy as an interdisci- plinary field of study anchored in political science and focused on advanced capitalist states. We argue that this field of inquiry has reached an impasse and that a more sustained engage- ment with macroeconomics provides a way forward. Against this backdrop, we review two distinct traditions of macroeconomics – New Keynesian and Post-Keynesian macroeco- nomics – and discuss their relative merits as vehicles for renewing the research agenda of comparative political economy.
  • Topic: Capitalism, Macroeconomics, Keynes
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Wolfgang Streeck
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: European social policy changed with the evolution of European and global capitalism, the scope and shape of European-level international institutions, the size and heterogeneity of “Europe” as a polity, and the politics of the European national welfare state. The paper outlines the long-term trajectory of European social policy, from the intended absorption of national welfare states into one united, federal welfare state to a selective updating of national social policies by European social policies; to multi-level coordination of national systems by special European institutions; to European soft law helping national “modern- ization” on the “Third Way”; to exposure of national systems to international economic competition as an incentive for “structural reform”; and to subordination of social policy, national and European, to the defense of a common hard currency through fiscal consoli- dation – from, in other words, federal social democracy to competitive “adjustment” of national social protection and social life to global markets.
  • Topic: Reform, Capitalism, Political structure, Social Policy, Welfare, Integration
  • Political Geography: Europe