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 Research Projects at the MPIfG

Introduction to "Sociology of Public Finances and Debt"

Leon Wansleben


 
Joseph Schumpeter claimed that “public finances are one of the best starting points for an investigation of society.” What he implied was that public finances define a constitutive nexus between modern government and capitalism, and that they play a central role in struggles over socioeconomic privileges and obligations in democratic states. In a growing field of sociological research, scholars have taken up Schumpeter’s dictum by studying budgetary politics, the growing power of financial markets, the moral discourses surrounding public indebtedness, and the political and economic forces that lead to public debt expansion. The research group contributes to the work in this field by bringing together approaches from political and fiscal sociology with those from the social studies of finance and financialization. The group explores in particular how political struggles surrounding public finances are shaped by, and reflected in, accounting techniques and evaluation practices. We ask which organizations, institutions, and rule books introduce the concepts, categories, and metrics upon which the more overt struggles over legitimate deficit limits, levels of indebtedness, and forms of spending and financing are based.
 

 
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