Economic order and law: Contested traditions

“Control or Economic Law” is the somewhat enigmatic title of a seminal essay published in 2014 by Eugen Böhm-Bawerk, one of the founding father of the Austrian School of Economics. The essay deals with a fundamental tension which concerns all social sciences and is resurfacing in ever new variations, at present in particular intensity. “Control” stands in more contemporary terminology for governmentability, “economic law” for the “logic” of the economy. The course will reconstruct the main stages of pertinent debates on this tension and the efforts to resolve them. It will do so with the help of classical texts and controversies within and across law, economics, political sociology and political science.

Böhm-Bawerk will be followed by the chapter on sociology of law in Max Weber’s Economy and Society (1922) which contrasts the formal rationality with quests for social justice. The post laissez-faire varieties of neo-liberalism have sought to define new synthesis between normative ordering and the functioning of the economy. So did, albeit in a fundamentally different mode conceptualization of an industrial democracy represented i.a. by labour lawyer Hugo Sinzheimer on the one hand and the fascist and national-socialist precursors of contemporary populist movements on the other, represented famously by constitutional theorist Carl Schmitt. After the Second World War democratic constitutionalism, in particular Jürgen Habermas with his Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy nourished new hopes which are exposed to two major challenges.

One is the ever growing importance of technocratic rule which in the risk society; here we will resort to Sheila Jasanoff’s recent analyses of entanglement of expert power with political rule. The second challenge is an update of Böhm-Bawerk’s dichotomy, namely the financial crisis; here we will examine the dominance of economic expertise in the management of the crisis and some suggestions on the establishment of new modes of democratic accountability. 

This course is for 2nd year MIA and MPP students only.

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