Germany After the Social Democratic Century: The Political Economy of Imbalance

Sidney A. Rothstein, Tobias Schulze-Cleven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The end of the social democratic century has marked the beginning of a new era of political and economic imbalance in Europe. These dynamics are visible even in Germany, despite its reputation for stability. This article proposes reorienting the paradigm for research on Germany’s political economy from stability to imbalance in order to help illuminate central causal processes within the country and across the rich democracies. As our review of prominent approaches to the German Model reveals, recent developments have unseated the mechanisms that once balanced competing social forces. Putting contemporary tensions centre stage, we outline three vantage points from which to study political and economic imbalance: the systemic properties of capitalism, multivalent policy feedback, and the organisational foundations of creative adjustment. This conceptual reorientation should equip scholars to use Germany not merely for theorising the roots of stability in the past, but also to employ it as a powerful prism to explain the dynamics of imbalance in the current era.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-318
Number of pages22
JournalGerman Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Sociology and Political Science

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