The Working Group Political Economy (APÖ - Arbeitsgruppe Politische Ökonomie) of the Institute of Political Economy and Economic Education has started in 2016 publishing latest research in the form of Working Papers.
The green spirit of capitalism -
How do market mechanisms contribute to the appropriation of ecological meaning in the food industry?
In few places does the convergence between capitalism and ecology seem as overwhelming and omnipresent as in the food trade. As early as 2001, the author team Boltanski/Chiapello dealt with the ability of capitalism to absorb cultural meaning. The capitalist "spirit" thus always forms the moral basis that accumulation requires in order to legitimize itself socially. In order to illuminate the blind spot of this study - the concrete modes of capitalist appropriation of cultural contents of meaning - with the help of F. A. von Hayek, the market is conceptualized as a hinge between ecological contents of meaning and capitalist accumulation. In this context, the uncovering and orienting effect of competition is essential for identifying and valorizing ecological meaning, while with J.A. Schumpeter its innovative potentials are conceptualized as an exploratory effect. Using the example of the greening food industry, this process is plausibilized along the aforementioned market effects, taking into account the political, social and discursive embedding of markets. In doing so, both real economic developments and insights from the business marketing literature serve as indicators for the competition-induced genesis of a green capitalist spirit in the food industry.
Felissa Hofmeister studied political science and history at the University of Tübingen. She completed her bachelor's degree in the summer semester of 2021 with this thesis.
Postal address: Reutlingerstrasse 6, 72072 Tübingen, Germany.
Libra - A disruptive (sham) innovation in the currency market
On June 17, 2019, Facebook announced its intention to launch its own crypto currency called Libra. The largest social network in the world promised nothing less than the creation of a "global currency." The debate triggered in business and politics found its most striking expression in the demand for a central bank crypto currency. Only with this innovative counter-offer, it was assumed, could the state's currency monopoly be defended against the powerful private actor.
This working paper is devoted to the question of why Libra in particular is considered to have the potential to bring about the erosion of the state currency monopoly and to what extent such an assessment corresponds to reality. By linking the innovation theory approach of Disruptive Innovation with the monetary theory of neo-chartalism, this paper concludes that Libra is by no means a disruptive innovation in the currency market. State actors recognize a disruptive potential in Libra that, as can be seen from a monetary theory perspective, does not exist. Consequently, the state finds itself in the role of a reactive market participant that mistakenly reacts to a sham innovation. A conceptual reunderstanding of Libra as an evolutionary innovation of e-money would come closer to reality and could encourage a different form of state reaction.
Daniel Tjarks studied political science and history at the University of Tübingen. He completed his Bachelor's degree in the winter semester 2019/20 with the present thesis.
The reconstruction of the Volksheim
- Causes and dimensions of the transformation of the Swedish welfare state since the 1990s
This working paper examines the causes and dimensions of the transformation of the Swedish welfare state since the 1990s. Two guiding questions emerge that build on each other. First, which internal and/or external factors have shaken and changed the pillars of the Swedish model? Second: Does the extent of the shocks suggest only a path correction or even a change of path?
It is assumed that increasing contradictions in the design of the welfare regime coupled with the effects of the economic crisis of the 1990s lead to visible changes in the pillars of the welfare state. As a result, the social power relations, consisting of power resources and class coalitions, have shifted, as have the political-institutional framework conditions. Since the changes in the course of the shift were emphasized but moderate in nature, the reforms did not represent a radical change of course, but rather a course correction.
Matthias Fleisch is an alumnus of the University of Tübingen and took his state exam in the fall of 2017 in "Political/Economic Sciences."
Equal living conditions and regional mobility
- Impact of liberalization and privatization in the local rail passenger transport sector in Germany and France
The international and European trend toward more privatization and liberalization does not stop at the network infrastructure. The working paper examines the consequences of such processes for the organization of "services of general interest" and "service public" - and the associated "equality of living conditions" and "cohésion" - in Germany and France. Case studies on these two countries systematically reconstruct how the European liberalization guidelines and the model of the guarantee state have affected local rail passenger transport (SPNV). Against the background of the historically developed structures, the nationally specific reform proposals and approaches to regionalization of local rail transport are reconstructed and put into relation to the changes in the range and quality of services offered. In the comparative analysis, the paper concludes that the efficiency-oriented reforms in Germany brought about a withdrawal from the area, while in France regional competencies were initially strengthened - at the acceptance of considerable financial costs and regionally divergent developments. In the future, more efficiency-oriented reforms can be expected. A European policy that recognizes and strengthens the public economy and the state's tasks of general interest and indirectly contributes to the equivalence of living conditions seems indispensable for a positive development of the local public transport system.
Patrick Klösel studied political science, philosophy and international economics in Tübingen. He is currently studying at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy in the Master Logic and Philosophy of Science program. He is currently writing his socio-political column "Marktverzagen" in Relevant (magazine) .
On the way to a green auto hegemony?
The Political Economy of Automobility in Baden-Württemberg and the Mobility Policy of the Greens since 2011-2017
Against the backdrop of climate change, the diesel scandal and air pollution, the political pressure to act for a sustainable turnaround in mobility has recently increased noticeably. This working paper examines the obstacles to such a change in the green-governed 'car country' of Baden-Württemberg and the strategies pursued by relevant actors in this situation. First, the concept of autohegemony is developed and spelled out on the production and consumption side according to Antonio Gramsci's considerations. On this political-economic basis, the path from the invention of the automobile to its hegemonic position in the economic and transport structure of the state is then traced historically. Finally, a policy analysis of two current projects - the State Initiative for Electromobility and the Clean Air Plan for the State Capital Stuttgart - empirically examines whether the car is losing its hegemonic position or whether the fossil-based car is merely being transformed into a 'green' car hegemony. It becomes clear that a 'green' coalition of actors is consolidating and driving forward an ecological modernization of automobility, which is manifested concretely in the electric car. However, the green autohegemony project cannot (yet) be described as hegemonic, since it is both being held back by fossilist groups of actors and criticized from a socio-ecological perspective due to lasting contradictions.
Christof Wiest is currently completing his teacher training in Political Science, Economics, Protestant Theology and English at the University of Tübingen.
The role of the ECB in European crisis management
- An analysis from the perspective of a neogramscian extended regulation theory
Since the outbreak of the global financial crisis in 2007 and the subsequent crisis in the Eurozone, the European Central Bank (ECB) has moved to the center of European crisis management. The ECB has taken on a variety of sometimes contradictory roles: It "rescues" the common currency by pursuing an unconventional monetary and economic policy, has risen to become the watchdog within the banking union and the supreme supervisor of the most important European financial institutions, and also plays an important role in the economic policy orientation of economic governance. The working paper explores how these roles can be explained and analyzes from the perspective of a neo-Gramscian expanded regulation theory, in which political-economic and institutional structures as well as in which power and power relations the ECB is embedded. Based on an evaluation of official documents, press statements, interviews, correspondence between ECB staff and national governments, and the analysis of numerous policy papers by relevant actors, it will be shown that the ECB is a central actor in the neoliberally configured crisis constitutionalism: It fits into existing power and power relations to ensure the functioning of nationally unequal accumulation regimes as well as European financial market capitalism.
Simon Guntrum studied Political Science and Economics at the Institute of Political Science at the University of Tübingen.
Class Agency and Austerity
The working paper examines the European crisis resolution strategy through austerity from a class-centered perspective. The paper answers the question whether - in contrast to theories with a heavy emphasis on structures - we can understand and describe austerity in the euro crisis as a strategic project of transnational class factions. To this end, the instrument of class analysis in the field of tension of the actor-structure discussion is examined first. Subsequently, the development of European integration since the 1980s is traced in the context of the neoliberal historical structure. Complementary to the structural analysis, the empirical part of the paper focuses on the strategic orientation of three actors of transnational European capital (ERT, BusinessEurope, and EFR) in the euro crisis. The analysis of the policy documents published during the crisis and their integration into the crisis dynamics show that austerity policy has not only a structural but also an actor-centered and thus strategic dimension.
Milan Babić is currently a PhD student and research fellow at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) and part of the Programme Group Political Economy and Transnational Governance (PETGOV).