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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