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 Political Economy of Growth Models

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Department The Sociology of Markets

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Large fans and rusty gears in front of a concrete wall outdoors

It is controversial whether there is or should be a fundamental change from an industrial to a service society in rich Western nations

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To overcome the Coronavirus outbreak, sociopolitical and economic visions for the future are needed just as urgently as vaccines or emergency assistance from the state. A contribution by Lisa Suckert

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Lisa Suckert of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies argues for a more differentiated perception of the Brexit campaign and the economic identity of Great Britain.

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Interview with sociologist Akos Rona-Tas

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Three rhinoceroses are killed in South Africa each day, their horns chopped off and sold illegally on international markets.

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How do individuals orient themselves in a crowd? How does hate spread on the internet? And what does one have to do with the other? At the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Mehdi Moussaid studies people in motion and explains why this sometimes leads to disaster.

Leon Wansleben, a sociologist at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, takes an analytical look at the state’s economic and financial activities. It appears that, rather than leaving everything to the market, the state has begun playing an active role in economic policy.

Until about 30 years ago, growth in Europe was fueled by rising wages and growing consumption. However, national and international developments started undermining this model in the 1990s. Since then, Germany has strengthened its reliance on exports, while Britain, Sweden and Italy have branched out onto other paths. Lucio Baccaro from the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne has been analyzing the various possibilities.

Felipe González, associate scientist at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, leads the Max Planck Partner Group for the Study of the Economy and the Public in Santiago de Chile. He reports on the project, talks about social unrest in Chile, and recalls the culture shock he experienced while living in Germany.

Opinions are divided when it comes to the question of how Europe should progress in the future. On the one side are the Eurosceptics, who wish for stronger nation states. But on the other, there are also many advocates of stronger European integration. At the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, research on Europe by Martin Höpner and his group and Fritz Scharpf explores to what extent there is any chance for the member states to move closer together, given their significant structural differences.

Advertising tells us that wishes really can come true. With the right deodorant, anyone can be a cool guy. The new yogurt is guaranteed to make you slim. Paradise is waiting for you at the seaside resort. It is well known that advertisements tell fictional stories designed to arouse the expectation that the product in question is going to make us cool, slim, or feel rested and refreshed. Our author explains that the economic system as such functions in a very similar way. Stories play an equally vital role in the seemingly rational world of investors and analysts.

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Public finances as a social fabric: ideas for a new fiscal sociology

2021 Wansleben, Leon

Social and Behavioural Sciences

Public finances were the key campaign issue in the 2021 German federal election. The coronavirus pandemic brought the favorable financial conditions of the 2010s to an end, and the political parties responded with a range of different tax proposals, spending priorities, and positions on “black zero,” Germany’s longstanding commitment to a balanced budget, on which to fight the election. But politics is not the only area in which public finances are key to negotiating some of the major issues of our time.

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The future in crisis

2020 Suckert, Lisa

Social and Behavioural Sciences

In a crisis, the future appears to many people to be intangible and difficult to grasp. For social science research, however, imagined futures are important for understanding how crises progress. Expectations play a central role in the different stages of a crisis. As the examples of the 2007 financial crisis, the Brexit vote, and the current coronavirus pandemic all demonstrate, socio-political and economic concepts for the future are as crucial to overcoming a crisis as vaccines or emergency assistance from the state.

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Capitalism needs growth – but there is no magic formula

2019 Lucio Baccaro

Social and Behavioural Sciences

European countries differ not only in terms of their prosperity. Other factors, such as the ways in which their welfare state or industrial relations institutions affect the economy, differ from country to country as well. The MPIfG’s new project area, the Political Economy of Growth Models, explores how growth is generated in European varieties of capitalism. A comparison between Germany, the UK, Sweden, and Italy reveals which strategies are pursued to generate the demand needed for economic growth.

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The ideal of home-ownership – a generator of prosperity or crisis engine?

2018 Kohl, Sebastian

Social and Behavioural Sciences

Until the global financial crisis of 2007, homeownership had been a broadly supported political ideal in most countries and political parties. Historically, the idea of getting more people into homeownership can be traced back to a conservative answer to the upheavals of industrialization, but it can also be found in many political manifestos of center-left parties. It was not until after the financial crisis that observers noticed that the homeownership ideal had also produced mortgage and house price booms, followed by deep recession and more political radicalism.

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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.

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