Workshop "Between Populism and Capitalism: The Political Economy of Welfare States and Growth Models"

Donnerstag, 26. September 2019
– Freitag, 27. September 2019

University of Konstanz

Exzellenzcluster "The Politics of Inequality"

On September 26th and 27th, we are going to hold a workshop at the University of Konstanz to address the implications of growing support for populist parties and long-term macroeconomic trends (e.g. ‘financialisation’, monetarism, and inequality) on the trajectories of welfare states and growth models in the advanced capitalist countries.


Although the rise of populism is a common trend in the advanced capitalist countries, established theories in comparative political economy and welfare state research have not systematically taken this new political force into account. While we are generally interested in new aspects on the political economy of welfare states and growth models, we particularly welcome contributions in the following areas: First, we want to examine how changes in welfare state and growth models influence variations in the success and type of populist appeals (causes of populism). Second, we wish to explore how populist radical right and radical left parties in turn impact on welfare state policies and macroeconomic growth strategies (consequences of populism). Third, we attempt to shed light on the interactions of established parties and organized interests with populist parties in designing, implementing, and legitimizing reforms of welfare state and macroeconomic policies (politics of populism).

Thematic Agenda: Populism and the Politics of Inequality

Our workshop is related to the research program of the excellence cluster “The Politics of Inequality” in three ways. First, populist appeals are likely to influence the perceptions of inequality by articulating a morally laden conflict between ‘the corrupt elite’ and ‘the common people’. Understanding how welfare states and growth models shape such appeals provides us insights into the fairness perceptions of the populist parties’ voters. Second, the distributional implications of populism also contribute to the cluster’s second research area on participation. Differences in the type and success of populist appeals help us understand the conditions under which these parties translate their agenda into processes of political mobilization. Third, it is clear that welfare states and growth models influence the distribution of income and wealth, life chances, and educational chances. Studying the political dynamics underlying these policies contributes to a better understanding of how populist parties respond to public demands and how the resulting policies shape distributional outcomes, which, in turn, affect public opinion.