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Christopher S. Allen

For much of the past two decades since unification, the literature on the German economy has largely focused on the erosion of the German model of organized capitalism and emphasized institutional decline and the corresponding rise of neoliberalism. The first part of the article analyzes the strains unification placed on German economic performance that caused many observers to call for modification of the model in a more neo-liberal direction. The second part takes a different focus and lays out the main rationale of the paper. It inquires why such a coordinated market economy was created in the first place and whether a renewed form of it might still be useful for Germany, the European Union, and other developed democracies in the early twenty-first century. The third section articulates the origins of the institutional and ideational components of these coordinated market economy models, during both the Bismarckian and Social Market Economy periods. The final portion inquires whether the failure of the contemporary liberal market economy approach in the wake of the worldwide financial crisis and severe recession represents a possible opening for the creation of a third coordinated market economy not only for Germany but for a redesigned European Union.

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Vital Energy

The Current of Relations

Stephen Gudeman

'Vital energy' is a central idea in the economies of Panama and Colombia. Known as 'strength' or 'force', and assembled from the environment, this current connects all activities in the local economies and establishes relationships, from kin to strangers. Humans compose vital energy, but its sources are limited, and it is expended in use. Its availability is a gift from God and part of the unpredictable fortune that faces everyone. This economy exhibits a contrast between a social current and a market currency. It offers a materialist perspective, provides a critique of standard economics, suggests that sharing rather than reciprocity or rational choice is the 'fundamental' economic practice, and shows how an economy may be a kind of ritual legitimated by a belief in divine power that is displayed through personal fortune.

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Smith in Beijing, Stalin in Urumchi

Ethnicity, political economy, and violence in Xinjiang, 1759–2009

Chris Hann

The extraordinary growth rates of China’s “reform socialist” economy have helped to finance not only the United States’ debt but also large-scale transfers to the country’s underdeveloped regions. Yet violence in Tibet in 2008 was followed in July 2009 by major rioting in Xinjiang. This article approaches the latter events through the analysis of contemporary labor markets, socialist policies toward ethnic minorities, and the history of Xinjiang’s incorporation into the Manchu empire. Theoretical inspiration for this longue durée analysis is drawn from Adam Smith, via Giovanni Arrighi’s recent reassessment of the Smithian market model; anthropological work points to flaws in this vision.

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The Role of Small-Scale Farming in Familial Care

Reducing Work Risks Stemming from the Market Economy in Northeast Thailand

Shinsuke Tomita, Mario Ivan Lopez and Yasuyuki Kono

At present, Thailand’s market economy is placing pressure on familial care within rural households. An increasing amount of people are making their living in the current market economy and moving to urban areas in search of employment. The provisioning of care has come under greater risk, especially for women and couples of working age who are exposed to the possibilities of losing employment opportunities. While caregiving has been a responsibility of the household, shifts in working patterns have weakened its ability to care for children and the elderly. However, the capacity to care in northeast Thailand is still higher than in other regions of the country. This article discusses the balancing act that takes place between a progressive market economy and familial care as provided within households in northeast Thailand to demonstrate the importance that rice farming plays in familial care even if income from farming is limited.

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Richard Westra

All communities of practice must face questions relating to the material economic foundations of future sustainable societies. David Graeber, Karl Polanyi and Karl Marx each have produced typologies of possible types of economy, synthesised as: (1) the principle of individual reciprocity, (2) the market principle of capitalism, and (3) the planning principle of the state. I apply this synthesis to recent proposals for community change advanced by Bill McKibben and David Korten concerning economic scale and the re-localising of production and consumption sundered by globalisation, focused on the local exchange and trading system (LETS). The operationalising of LETS draws upon Adam Smith’s view of markets as face-to-face exchanges of goods taking place in small morality-bound communities. Smith, McKibben and Korten conflate two different meanings of the term ‘exchange’. To understand the role LETS may play in future sustainable economies in communities of practice demands treatment of this problem.

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Sakha Music Business

Mission, Contracts, and Social Relations in the Developing Post-Socialist Market Economy

Aimar Ventsel

This article is about the Sakha music business and the people involved in it. It discusses different strategies of making music and shows that different music genres have their own setting of social relations. Due to the specific economic and social situation, social relations in the music business are often informal. The classic theory of the cultural industry states that producing music is a calculated market economy-oriented activity. This article questions such an approach and shows that social and cultural ideas are present in the music-making process. The Sakha music business cannot be seen as only a profit-oriented sphere. Whereas producers and musicians are interested in formal, contract-based relations in purely economic cases, the informality maintains its importance. Ideas of solidarity and mutual support are linked to the perception of being in one music community, which uses different elements of Sakha culture in their music. As is demonstrated in the article, incorporation of Sakha motives is not only a marketing strategy but also a way for musicians and producers to act as carriers of the Sakha culture whose mission is to develop it.

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Guido Thiemeyer

This article focuses on the economic aspects of German European policy in the 1950s and raises the question whether the economic system of the Federal Republic of Germany, “Soziale Marktwirtschaft” had any impact on the European policy of the West German state. It argues that Social Market Economy as defined by Ludwig Erhard influenced German European policy in certain aspects, but there was a latent contradiction between the political approach of Konrad Adenauer and this economic concept. Moreover, this article shows that West German European policy was not always as supportive for European unity as it is often considered.

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James C. Van Hook

Economics and economic history have a fundamental role to play in our understanding of Cold War Germany. Yet, it is still difficult to establish concrete links between economic phenomena and the most important questions facing post 1945 historians. Obviously, one may evaluate West Germany's “economic miracle,” the success of western European integration, or the end of communism in 1989 from a purely economic point of view. To achieve a deeper understanding of Cold War Germany, however, one must evaluate whether the social market economy represented an adequate response to Nazism, if memory and perspective provided the decisive impulse for European integration, or if the Cold War ended in Europe because of changes in western nuclear strategy. Economic history operates in relation to politics, culture, and historical memory. The parameters for economic action are often as determined by the given political culture of the moment, as they are by the feasibility of alternative economic philosophies.

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Konrad H. Jarausch

Perhaps two generations after the modest beginning, the FRG's successes and failures have become amenable to a more balanced evaluation. From the vantage point of the "Berlin Republic," the key question has shifted from whether the second German democracy would survive at all, to the reasons for its relatively positive course and to the extent of its lingering problems. This chapter first delves into the emergence of popular myths that characterized the Federal Republic's difficult search for identity. Secondly, it takes a look at some of the West's actual accomplishments in problem-solving, because such a comparison helps explain the eventual collapse of the East. Finally, it scrutinizes several of the competing explanations so as to reveal their political agendas and discuss their analytical limitations. Instead of presenting a simple success story, this reflection therefore strives for a critical appreciation. The paper concludes that at sixty, the FRG has entered a comfortable middle age, leaving be hind some of its earlier drama, but exuding a sense of competent normalcy. The mythical challenges of postwar reconstruction and recovery of international respectability have receded, followed instead by everyday concerns that are much less exhilarating. There are still plenty of problems, ranging from an aging population to a lack of full-day childcare, but they are shared by other advanced industrial societies. Moreover, after a century of first arrogant and then dejected difference, the German Sonderweg has finally come to an end. As a result of the meltdown of the Anglo-American version of unrestrained capitalism, the German model of a socially responsive market economy has even regained some of its prior luster. Hence, the postwar record of cautious incrementalism inspires some confidence that the Germans will also manage to meet the unforeseen political and economic challenges of the future.

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A John Barleycorn temptation

Behaviour of Siberian regions on the alcoholic beverages market (1999-2003)

Grigorii L. Olekh

This article considers the recent declining fortunes of the Siberian liquor producing and retail industry. Cheaper vodka 'imported' from regions outside Siberia has led to a loss of revenue from local excise duties. Some firms have gone bankrupt, and others are in serious financial difficulties as a result of unpaid debts to the Inland Revenue. There is also evidence of malpractice and corruption. There are signs, however, that the current difficulties are causing Siberian alcoholic drinks producers to join together and unite in adopting measures to combat the cheaper vodka imports.