Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies

Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies

The economy, society and politics are the focus of work at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne. The Institute conducts advanced basic research aimed at developing an empirically based theory of the social and political foundations of modern economies. The researchers at the Institute are particularly interested in the interrelationship between economic, social and political processes. For example, they are investigating how markets and business organizations are embedded in historic-institutional, political and cultural frameworks, how they develop and how their social contexts change over time.

Contact

Paulstr. 3
50676 Köln
Phone: +49 221 2767-0
Fax: +49 221 2767-555

PhD opportunities

This institute has an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS):
IMPRS on the Social and Political Constitution of the Economy

Department The Sociology of Markets more
Department Economic Sociology and Political Economy more
A status symbol to die for
Three rhinoceroses are killed in South Africa each day, their horns chopped off and sold illegally on international markets. more
How fictional expectations drive the dynamics of economic developments
The financial crisis reached its apogee in the autumn of 2008: the market for mortgage-backed securities from US mortgage loans imploded. Investors who had made what they thought were safe investments in securities, suddenly found themselves facing massive losses. The writedowns required and the payments due from credit insurance policies brought the financial system to the brink of collapse in a very short space of time. more
On the political economics of the European Central Bank's bond-buying programme. more
<p>Not every network is a guarantor of professional success for women</p>
Actresses that work with diverse, not homogeneous teams, are more successful in their careers more
Children, work and consumption: why demographics and political economy are inseparable
Births and birth rates are normally subjects for family sociology or demographics. So what are they doing in a research programme on the political economy of modern capitalism? more
Max Planck scientists cooperate with partners in more than 110 countries worldwide. Here they relate their personal experiences and impressions. Marcin Serafin studied sociology at the University of Warsaw. For his doctoral thesis, he chose to attend an International Max Planck Research School, where he enjoyed the opportunity to concentrate exclusively on his doctoral research – a stark contrast to the usual working conditions of doctoral students in Poland.
The Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (MPIfG) has been looking at the issue of “illegal markets” since 2012, and it has proven far from easy to draw any clear lines of demarcation. After all, the cycle of manufacture, distribution and consumption isn’t always as uniformly criminal as in the case of drugs or child pornography. Academic staff and doctoral students headed by Director Jens Beckert are researching counterfeiting in Argentina, the mining and trade in diamonds in Sierra Leone, the trade in rhinoceros horn and financial market crime – a look at an innovative project in economic sociology.
With the financial markets broadening their international reach, there was hope that microcredit might alleviate poverty and lead to the emancipation of women in the “global South.” Sadly, however, there are no indications that microfinance has had a positive effect. On the contrary, the poor have suffered more discipline, while surplus labor is extracted from them even more than before. Worse still, the microfinance sector has triggered a series of devastating crises. Our author explains why we can’t use more debt to create social justice.
As Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, Wolfgang Streeck’s research focuses on the tension between democratic politics and the capitalist economy. In this interview, he speaks about the consequences of fiscal policy decisions, such as the establishment of a debt brake, the cutbacks required as a result and the shared liability for debt in the eurozone.
Will Europe fail if the euro collapses? Many believe it will, and are trying to save the euro. Our author holds a different view: If the euro is to be used as a tool to preserve European integration, the eurozone must be reduced to a core of countries that are equipped for long-term stability, allowing the remaining EU members to return to the more flexible European Monetary System.
Old Buddhist temples, rural underdevelopment and extreme poverty on the one hand, skyscrapers, high-tech and world champion in exports on the other: during the past 40 years, China has surged forward to catch up with the industrialized nations.
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Economization is a basic historical process that has profoundly changed the relationships between the economy, the state, society, and individuals since the 1970s. The political power of the private sector has grown, and the terminology, self-images, goals, and yardsticks of economics have become increasingly predominant. Only if we know about such basic historical developments we can understand the forces driving the world around us today and imagine what options are available for influencing future developments. more

The Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne has a long history of researching European integration and European monetary orders. The MPIfG’s research on Europe links the analysis of multilevel systems to insights from Comparative Political Economy into the inherent logic of the manufacturing and distributive regimes that are found in the EU and the eurozone. How can the euro crisis be judged on this basis and which possible solutions follow?

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2008 the market for mortgage-backed securities from US mortgage loans imploded. The writedowns required and the payments due from credit insurance policies brought the financial system to the brink of collapse. Why had economists failed to spot the warning signs of the incipient worldwide financial crisis? The rationality assumptions behind economic theory founder on the complexity of the economy; expectations cannot be understood rationally but are contingent visions of the future. Such “fictional” expectations play a central role in decisions and in the dynamics of economic developments. more
Low interest rates from the European Central Bank, loan offers galore on the internet, zero-percent financing from retailers: it has rarely been easier to get personal credit. Evoking the dangers of excessive consumption and credit bubbles oversimplifies this phenomenon, however. A political economy of household debt puts household debt into perspective. more

The short march to capitalism

2014 ten Brink, Tobias
Social and Behavioural Sciences
Old Buddhist temples, rural underdevelopment and extreme poverty on the one hand, skyscrapers, high-tech and world champion in exports on the other: during the past forty years, China has surged forward to catch up with the industrialized nations. What are the causes of this economic boom, and what are the factors that could lead to the destabilization of the Chinese success model? more
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