The study of societies can aim to define the limits and opportunities presented by trying to collectively tackle specific problems within a given institutional framework. If it succeeds, this research can have a valuable impact on modern democracies.
Wolfgang Streeck, Director at the MPIfG
History of the MPIfG
1984The Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (Max-Planck-Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung, MPIfG) in Cologne is founded on November 23 by the Max Planck Society. The Max Planck Society's goal is to provide a solid basis for basic research in social sciences within its organization. The institute's founding director is Professor Renate Mayntz, Full Professor of Sociology and Director of the Institute for Applied Social Research at the University of Cologne.
1986Professor Fritz W. Scharpf, Director at the the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) from 1973 to 1984, is appointed to be the second director at the MPIfG. The institute's research focuses on internationally comparative studies of the interaction between political-administrative intervention and societal self-organization in selected sectors close to the state.
1988The MPIfG Scientific Advisory Board is established to advise the directors on the institute's research program and to evaluate the institute's work. The board (Fachbeirat) reports to the President of the Max Planck Society.
1995Professor Wolfgang Streeck, Professor of Sociology and Industrial Relations at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1988 to 1995, joins the directorate of the MPIfG. He is to succeed Professor Renate Mayntz as director at the institute when she retires two years later.
1996The modified and expanded research program of the MPIfG focuses on the reaction of national political and societal systems of regulation to international economic and institutional integration.
1997Professor Renate Mayntz retires in April. Professor Colin Crouch from Oxford University and the European University Institute is appointed to be an External Scientific Member of the institute. He is a distinguished international scholar whose comparative work spans sociology, political science and economics. The MPIfG Board of Trustees, whose members come from government, business and research organizations, is established to promote the exchange of ideas and information between the MPIfG and the general public.
1998In August the MPIfG confirms its intention to remain in Cologne by moving downtown to a new building in Cologne's Südstadt. The increased office space enables the institute to host more visiting researchers and expand its involvement in international research projects.
2003Professor Fritz W. Scharpf retires in February.
2005Professor Jens Beckert succeeds Fritz W. Scharpf as director at the MPIfG. By appointing Beckert, the MPIfG is opening up new perspectives in the sociological study of the economy. Professor Kathleen Thelen from Northwestern University is appointed to be an External Scientific Member of the institute.
2007In January the International Max Planck Research School on the Social and Political Constitution of the Economy (IMPRS-SPCE), the first graduate program in Germany in the field of economic sociology and political economy, is jointly founded by the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies and the University of Cologne. The IMPRS-SPCE explores the relationship between the modern economy and its social and political foundations.
2012The Max Planck Sciences Po Center on Coping with Instability in Market Societies (MaxPo) officially opens its doors in October in order to investigate the impact of increasing liberalization, technological advances, and cultural change on industrialized Western societies. Funded in equal parts by the Max Planck Society and Sciences Po, the Center is a unique innovation in Franco-German collaboration in the social sciences. The founding directors are sociologist Marion Fourcade and political scientist Cornelia Woll. Culminating many years of collaboration between the MPIfG in Cologne and Sciences Po in Paris, MaxPo is a major step toward even closer cooperation between the two institutions.
2014Professor Wolfgang Streeck retires in October.
Social sciences must seek to explain how social and economic macro phenomena such as events, structures and the dissolution of structures emerge from the interplay of two elements: proactive behavior that is purposive and constructive and unplanned, natural developments.
Renate Mayntz, Founding Director of the MPIfG
Renate Mayntz, Founding Director of the MPIfG