Resilient Liberalism: European Political Economy Through Boom and Bust

April 1st, 2012 in Event Highlights, News

On March 25-26, following the Council for European Studies meeting in Boston, the Center for the Study of Europe hosted a workshop entitled Resilient Liberalism: European Political Economy Through Boom and Bust [download program]. The two-day workshop brought together the contributors to a forthcoming Cambridge University Press publication on the state of European political economy, co-edited by Center Director Vivien A. Schmidt and Mark Thatcher from the London School of Economics as part of a larger study of the role of ideas in political economic change. The workshop was generously funded by the Center for the Humanities at Boston University, with contributions from the Departments of International Relations and Political Science. It will be followed by a second workshop at Sciences Po in Paris, funded by the European Science Foundation.

Although from the standpoint of the United States, Europe appears as a haven of social democracy, strongly opposed to economic liberalism, in truth since at least the 1980s the influence of neo-liberal ideas, institutions, and policies has grown steadily. These have profoundly changed the ways in which capitalism works across Europe’s different national economies as well as had major impacts on its welfare states. The central question addressed by the authors concerns why neo-liberal ideas have proven so resilient even in a ‘cold climate’ such as Europe, and despite apparently large-scale failures, theoretical critiques, and the existence of powerful alternatives. To answer the question, contributors examined the in-roads of economic liberalism on the European Union and its member-states as well as its spillover effects on political liberalism and democracy from historical, philosophical, and political economic vantage points.

Following the workshop, four of the authors, top experts on different aspects of European economics, politics, and welfare states, took part in a panel discussion on the European financial crisis – The Eurozone Crisis: Is There a Way Out? The public event, moderated by Vivien Schmidt, featured Maurizio Ferrera from the University of Milan, Andrew Gamble from Cambridge University, Mark Thatcher from LSE, and Sigurt Vitols from the Wissenschaftzentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung.

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