States, Classes, and Industries in the International Political Economy

Course Description: 

This course introduces participants into the study of: a) the forms in which varied external actors as well as international trade, capital markets, debt, and recessions influence domestic policy and politics; b) the pattern of alliance and conflict among the affected interest groups; c) the diversity of capitalist economic and political institutions; and d) structures of power and space in the global political economy, each shaping the responses to international economic challenges. Along these lines, participants will be acquainted with various schools of social interest-based (e. g. class and sectoral) as well as institutionalist approaches to politics and policy making. The studied concepts include the political importance of production factor endowments, the domestic and world political impact of industry life cycles, the significance of capital mobility across industries or national borders; the impact of advanced and less-advanced capitalisms’ institutional diversity; and varied concepts on the relationship between power and spatial differentiation/integration in the world economy.

The questions we shall discuss include the following. Why do owners of capital, labor, and land, often clash over issues of liberal versus protectionist trade policies? What explains that in other cases the opposing forces put their conflicts aside, and allign in protectionist or free-trading coalitions? Under which conditions will particular sectors (or class-fractions) of business forge multi-class alliances against fellow businessmen or landlords? How can various properties of the national economy (e.g. its size, whether it is abundantly or poorly endowed with physical and human capital, skilled or unskilled labor, or natural resources,) affect the prospects for conflict or cooperation in responding to world market challenges? How does it matter for development and state capacity whether the leading sector (that is the main activity) of the economy is characterized by small versus big firms, local versus foreign private capital, state enterprises, or unorganized versus unionized labor? Are there institutional synergies, which foster success in global competition, or mitigate exposure to global pressures? What are the consequences of varied capitalist world orders in different scholarly perspectives?

Learning Outcomes: 

The course prepares students for thesis writing and producing other academic and/or policy-relevant texts and presentations through:

a)      participation in in-class discussion and debate;

b)      improved ability for analytical and critical thinking; and

c)      enhancing their experience in comparisons of concepts and cases by writing a position paper.



Presence and active participation in in-class discussions / absence only in case of illness substantiated by medical documents. (15% of final grade)

Participants have to prepare and present in the class 1 position paper (length maximum 750 words all included) based on the readings of the syllabus. Going beyond a simple summary the papers should compare two or more views elaborated in the readings, raise a puzzling question, or critically comment on an interesting aspect. In order to facilitate in-class discussion, position papers have to be circulated among the participants (15% of final grade).

One in-class closed book midterm exam (60 minutes). The exam will test familiarity with the key terms and concepts covered by the readings during the weeks 1 to 6. (35% of final grade)

One in-class closed book final exam (60 minutes). The exam will test familiarity with the key terms and concepts covered by the readings during the weeks 7 to 11. (35% of final grade)