Varieties of neoliberalism, austerity capitalism, inequality: from national social citizenship to global competitiveness?

Main content

The great crisis of capitalism of the mid-1970s (crisis of Fordism) undermined the welfare state based economic and social development model of the postwar era. Accelerated and intensified globalization as well as Europe’s deregulation and austerity  project driven by the single market program and economic and monetary union, had a restrictive effect on established welfare regimes. Normative models of locational competition, competitiveness, and individualistic entrepreneurship forced back former orientations toward increasing social equality and social citizenship. Does a new era of austerity capitalism replace the era of the welfare state capitalism? How do welfare regimes change in this context, and how can both common and different developments in various countries be explained? Changes in class and power relations, institutional configurations and discourse structures are operationalized and empirically examined (in cooperation with international project partners) in order to determine more precisely direction and velocity of the transformation as well as the emerging varieties of austerity capitalism.
On the one hand, this project is conducted in cooperation with Prof. Stephen McBride, McMaster Univeristy in Hamilton, Canada. A “Partnership Development Grant” was submitted to the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council in fall 2015. On the other hand, research on neoliberal discourse constellations focusing on the variance and relevance of neoliberal models is carried out in various research and publication projects which are briefly described below.

Individual Projects (co-funded):

Co-editor of an edited volume on “Economists and the Welfare State”
Comparative historical country study of economic thought and welfare regimes in Germany, Japan, and the UK, 1950s to present. Under Review at Oxford University Press: Backhouse, Roger, Bateman, Bradley W., Nishizawa,  Tamotsu, Plehwe, Dieter (eds.) Economists and the Welfare State.

More Roads from Mont Pèlerin (Conference March 20-22, 2016)
The conference and publication project aims at the examination and discussion of global backgrounds, sources and implementations of neoliberal thinking (in cooperation with Phil Mirowski, Quinn Slobodian, and Hagen Schulz-Forberg ).

German Variety of Neoliberal Thought
An examination of the history and evolution of the World Economics Perspective at the Kieler Weltwirtschaftsinstitut: Merging German school location theory and Austrian marginalism (in cooperation with Quinn Slobodian).

European Austerity Think Tanks
Survey of six European party foundation networks (radical left, social democratic, green, liberal, conservative, new right) to identify economic policy think tanks, and among those austerity oriented think tanks. Preparation for a European funding application on think tanks and economic policy advice (in cooperation with Hartwig Pautz, University of West Scotland and other network partners across Europe).

Selected Publications

Plehwe, Dieter (2014): "Neoliberalismus und kein Ende. Seit 1989 gibt es keine Alterantiven mehr". In: WZB-Mitteilungen, H. 146, S. 26-29.
Dieter, Plehwe/Katja, Walther (2014): "In the Shadows of Hayek and Friedman. Quantitative Analysis as an Exploratory Instrument in Socio-Historic Network Research". In: Hagen Schulz-Forberg/Niklas Olsen (Eds.): Re-Inventing Western Civilisation. Transnational Reconstructions of Liberalism in Europe in the Twentieth Century. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, S. 41-68.
Project Management
since 2014
WZB, External funds
Cooperation partners
Stephen McBride, McMaster University, Hamilton (Canada)
Philip Mirowski, Notre Dame University, South Bend (USA)
Quinn Slobodian, Wellesley College, Boston (USA)
Roger Backhouse, University of Birmingham (UK)