Capitalism and Democracy: Histories of a Troubled Relationship

Winter term 2012/13 Syllabus BA Political Science

The relationship between capitalism and democracy is a fragile one, even before the current crisis in Europe that so forcefully reminded many of that fact. While Chancellor Merkel is confident that “we’ll find ways to redesign the Parliament to make it conform to markets” (Press conference September 1st, 2011), thus trying to resolve the relationship so as to establish a market-conform democracy, others – like Attac – insist that it is time to unleash democracy instead of markets. Both presuppose the relationship between capitalism and democracy to be antagonistic, making them incompatible. It seems that believe in a “peace formula” (Offe) – like the social state once promised to be – has been exhausted.

The seminar focuses on the history of theoretical articulations of the relationship between capitalism and democracy, thus bringing into view the linkages of theories of democracy and political economy.

Preparatory Reading

Crouch, Colin 2008 [2003]: Postdemokratie. Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp.

Offe, Claus 1984: Zu einigen Widersprüchen des modernen Sozialstaats, in: ders.: “Arbeitsgesellschaft”: Strukturprobleme und Zukunftsperspektiven. Frankfurt a. M./New York: Campus, 323–339.

Streeck, Wolfgang 2011: The Crises of Democratic Capitalism, in: New Left Review 71, 5–29.