A1 Institutions of Societal Integration: Market Economies, Organisations, and Welfare States

Modern market economies and advanced welfare states are under global and socio-economic pressures to change, and the recent economic crisis has added the need for further welfare state reforms. Although these challenges seem relatively similar for all modern economies, historically evolved welfare regimes, state-society relations and market systems vary considerably across European and other OECD countries.

The nexus between market and non-market institutions, between production and protection systems, is at the centre of this Research Area’s analytical and substantial focus. The theoretical starting point is the view that social action is embedded in specific social and institutional contexts that structure opportunities and constraints. Coordination, information, and influence capacities are shaped by networks, relating individual and corporate actors. Furthermore, institutional change in market economies and welfare states is partially dependent on societal support by collective actors and individuals, while affecting the social relations and conditions on which they are based. Finally, these institutional differences and changes in welfare state and market economies entail immediate and long-term consequences for the life chances of individuals, social groups, and families.

Research Area A1 combines projects that investigate market processes and public non-market interventions in a comparative perspective, often using both macro-institutional and micro-level data. One major fundamental question is the social and civic support for market economic activities and for welfare state policies that alter market processes. A connected second major topic is the analysis of the conditions for and process of welfare state reform and marketization. Finally, the research agenda also includes a concern for the consequences of changing production and protection systems for the life chances and social relations in Europe and other advanced economies.