This course describes, explains, and assesses the structures, institutions and involved actors of the political economy of Germany in the context of Europe and the rest of the world. It includes an understanding of the economic and political system and its regional manifestations from an interdisciplinary, comparative perspective. Therefore, we will answer questions such as “Why is Germany’s economy perceived as so successful?”; “How does the EU impact decision-making in Germany?; “How are the features of the country’s political system influencing its international economic alliances?” and “What are the current and future competitive challenges of the ‘German model’?”
Based on insights from political science, economics, sociology, psychology and history, the course is divided into three parts. First, we will survey the major theoretical and empirical foundations and contributions of the political economy of Germany. We analyze theories on the origins, stability, and changes of capitalist structures and the welfare state in Germany, but also in Europe in general. We will concentrate on important areas of political economy, such as the rise of finance and credit, as well as long-term challenges of growing inequality and labor market dualization. As the political economy of a country is the historic result of political and economic, we will also have a special focus on the historical roots such as the reunification process and the economic and political situation in the “new” federal states.
The second part of the course moves from the national to the supranational, European and global arena. We analyze the relationship between German and the European Union, examine the deeper processes of European integration as well as challenges such as the eurozone crisis or Brexit that have significantly shaped European economies. Additionally, we will have a closer look at Germany’s economic relationships with countries outside of Europe such as the US or China.
Finally, we discuss contemporary challenges as well as opportunities that the “German model” faces such as lobbyism, corruption, organized crime, inequality or COVID-19.
The goal of the course is also to understand the linkages and tensions between democracy and capitalism, between national variation and international integration, and to study wealth, inequalities, community and nature of the German political economy.