Economic Patriotism

Research Group


Why do we continuously see striking examples of politicians intervening in the economy, even in countries that have declared to be resolutely liberal? The recent national rescue packages, bank support and selective industry bailouts may testify to the particularly turbulent times, but they have been preceded by an incessant flow of initiatives aimed to ensure political goals when markets were judged unsatisfactory. In some countries, this intervention happens quietly, while politicians in others affirm to protect national economic interests and proudly evoke “economic patriotism.”

This research group explores the phenomenon of economic patriotism in industrialized countries. It studies the emergence of the concept and seeks to distinguish the rhetoric of economic patriotism from related concepts such as economic nationalism and protectionism. The project's hypothesis is that economic patriotism arises from tensions between spatially defined political mandates of decision-makers and the boundaries of economic activity. As long as political and economic boundaries do not match, decision-makers will face a trade-off between pursuing economic objectives and protecting their constituents. To facilitate comparison across countries and sectors, economic patriotism is defined as an economic policy or policy regime which seeks to discriminate in favor of particular social groups, firms, or sectors understood by policy-makers as "insiders" because of their territorial status.

Asymmetric targeting may be either implicit or explicit. While economic patriotism, in its original French usage, referred to noisy political initiatives aimed at swaying public opinion, the project panel also extends to policies that rely less on political communication, as long as the targeted benefactors are clearly identifiable. Questions to be addressed include the following: What drives economic patriotism? Why is it more pronounced in some countries than others? What can explain the gap between political rhetoric and actual political intervention? How, if at all, does the most recent wave differ from previous waves of protectionism? What are the implications of economic patriotism for the integration of the European single market?

The Otto Hahn Junior Research Group is made possible by a Franco-German cooperation between the Max Planck Society and Sciences Po Paris. A related project, directed by Ben Clift at the University of Warwick and Cornelia Woll, is financed through a “Partenariat Hubert Curien” by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the British Council.



Cornelia Woll


MPIfG: Research Group "Economic Patriotism" | [Last updated 25.03.2014 17:10]