About us

The Institute for Comprehensive Analysis of Economy was established at the Johannes Kepler University of Linz in the Autumn of 2009 – almost exactly one year after the crash of commercial finance. It is a research institute financed by external funds.

One focus of the research is on the causes and background of the economic crisis. The institute seeks to go beyond prevalent economy monitoring and a purely empirical study of the economy. We prefer interdisciplinary research approaches, embedding the economy as a whole into the complex of the social areas of academics, politics and the media. Socio-economic theories in the tradition of Max Weber, Joseph A. Schumpeter or Otto Neurath serves as an inspiration for this, as does the vast area of heterodox economics. The Institute sees economics as a social science which is aware of its macroeconomic and sociological foundations and which axiomatically opposes the idea that market processes represent “natural” orders and can be understood via “laws of nature”.

With this orientation, we consciously challenge the mainstream of economical theory of the past three decades, which was marked by the neo-liberal departure from a genuinely macroeconomic view, resulting in a domination of microeconomic approaches. The latter are considered to have been an influence on the initial conditions of the crisis, which is also understood as a crisis of economic theory. The Institute generally challenges the dogmatic idea that markets are per se efficient and financial markets are a priori rational. At the same time, we question the common market-state dualism in order not to artificially restrict the relevant discourse on a route to a new regulatory policy. With a preference for heterodox approaches and discourse analyses of economic theory, the Institute seeks to contribute to the strengthening of pluralism in economic science. It seeks to participate in the discussion on which new global economic order allows for more stable post-crisis economic activity, and which economic order has the capacity to bring both the macro-problems of economy and the unsolved virulent problems connected with economy – such as climate change, distribution of wealth, lacking democratic participation and the problem of war – closer to a solution.

Activities

  • Research project on the history of neo-liberalism (see below)
  • Research project on the effect of economic theories (see below)
  • Annual symposium in December
    • December 3-5, 2009: “Crisis? What crisis? On the problem of the current crisis discourse”
    • December 2-4, 2010: “Society! What society? Theories of indirect exercise of power”
    • Decemberm 1-2, 2011. “Democray! What democracy? Reasoning about postdemocracy”
    • Annual summer academy in June
      • June 3-5, 2010: “Power, Elites, Media. How our society works”
      • June, 23-25, “Hidden Money. Secret Power. Poor Work. Capitalims’ Open Secrets


Project 1: Documentation of the history of neo-liberalism

Neo-liberalism is one of the most important economic-political and socio-political schools of thought of the 20th century. It was born in the 1920′s, was further developed after the worldwide economic crisis in 1929 and outlasted the Keynesian “golden age” in a standby position. After the end of the 1970′s, neo-liberalism became the dominant paradigm of (economic) politics and the standard for reasoning about capitalist societies – especially in liberal democracies. Despite this huge effect, there are only a few academic studies which attempt to synthetically document the background and history of neo-liberalism, respectively its intellectual and political history. As yet, there is no monograph roughly encompassing the entire range of neo-liberalism. Furthermore, conflicts between political camps have continued to impact the hitherto existing research on neo-liberalism.

Due to the current economic crisis, the neo-liberal variety of capitalism is up for discussion. From the 1980′s onwards, market liberalism has led to a growing stack of problems which dramatically exploded in the autumn of 2008. If the Keynesian concepts should fail, too, the long economic-political era based on the economic-political concepts of the 1930′s – therefore on the crisis management theories of the “Great Depression” – could come to an end. In this context, it seems justified to chart a history of neo-liberalism and extensively document its genesis, development and effect on a socio-scientific basis. To this end, the entire range of neo-liberalism is recorded, characterized and classified using an interdisciplinary arsenal of methods which include central empirical archival work and discourse analysis.

Our goal is to create a documentation spanning 500-600 pages consisting of four main components. The central text will be illustrated with a graphical section, which will visualize the networks, reception paths, elite building, institutionalizations and the neo-liberal systems of power distribution and how they are connected. The third part concentrates on the material. It will present the most significant results of the archival work in thematic and chronological order. Finally, the leading representatives of the neo-liberal schools will be portrayed.

Project idea and project coordination:

Dr. Jürgen Nordmann, Assistant Professor at the Institute for Comprehensive Analysis of Economy at the Johannes Kepler University of Linz, previously at the University of Flensburg and the University of Marburg. Co-founder of the research group “Buena Vista Neo-Liberal?”. Author of “The long march to neo-liberalism” (German: “Der lange Marsch zum Neoliberalismus”, Hamburg 2005)

Project 2: Development trajectories and effects through, in and with economics – using the example of German academic agricultural economics

Motivation: In the course of current crisis-related events in the economic sector, there has been growth of interest in the genesis, profile, core content and boundaries of economic thinking and its influence on economy. This study will therefore analyze the development and influence of German agricultural economics with the abovementioned focus. It should serve as an example of fundamental research of the effect of economic theory.

The reason for choosing German agricultural economics as the research area is threefold:

  1. Very soon after 1945, a monolithic development could be observed in German agricultural economics (whose roots lie also in the almost seamless transition of the generation of 1933 through 1945 to after 1945).
  2. Furthermore, the post-1945 professorships of agricultural politics at all West German universities were exclusively held by agricultural economists. Also, the professorships of agricultural sociology, agricultural history et al. have, with very few exceptions, disappeared, so that the dominance of agricultural economy in the entire agricultural socio-scientific area is especially noticeable.
  3. Soon after 1945, Germany pursued an agricultural policy which could be understood as a regulation of the market (market organizations, subventions, quota system). Since an economy of market self-regulation was propagated at the same time, the question arises how this duality, this “balancing act” between favoured model and actual practice was “sustained”, “lived” or “formed”.

Research questions:

  1. How did it happen that economists at agricultural faculties developed a monolithic and dominant orientation of economics and social sciences? (Causes, factors of influence, dynamics – personal and institutional analysis of the sociology of science)
  2. How does the dominance of agricultural economists in the socio-scientific area manifest itself? (central statements, discussions and their characteristics – discourse analysis)
  3. What influence did academic agricultural economics which is oriented in such a way have on “practical” agricultural politics? (performativity analysis)

Project concept and coordination:

Dr. Katrin Hirte: widowed, 2 children; Assistant Professor at the Institute for Comprehensive Analysis of Economics at the Johannes Kepler University of Linz. Degree in agricultural sciences and pedagogy; has worked in several different institutions (Thüringer Landtag/Thuringian parliament, non-profit organisations, academic institutions); earned her doctoral degree (Dr. rer. pol.) in agricultural sociology at the University of Kassel in 2001.

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