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Politics and Economics

Political Regimes and Human Rights

This research field encompasses the comparative analysis of political regime types such as democracies or autocracies as well as their sub-categories, for instance, parliamentary democracies or military regimes. Based on theories of political economy, determinants of regime change and the stability of regimes are identified and evaluated. Theoretical and empirical research in this field also aims to explain political processes within a country and differences between countries with respect to political stability, economic growth, inequality, or respect for human rights. Explaining why the rights of the first or second generation are violated is done with a particular emphasis on the link between political institutions and the behavior of political actors. Research in this field is highly interdisciplinary and may include other social science disciplines such as sociology, economics, political science, or legal studies.

Law in the Market Society

Located at the intersection of law, economy, and society, this research area draws on the economic sociology of law (which connects economic sociology with the sociology of law) and links to critical and institutional perspectives in political economy (which likewise include law as a subject matter). Analytically speaking, the law of market society includes all types of law that constitute or regulate the market, be it public or private law, national, international, or transnational law. Taking off from Polanyian ideas, law is conceived as a social institution ‘embedding’ the economy but also as a ‘fictitious commodity’ which may itself become subject to market forces. This perspective can be applied to property relations (‘land’), work relations (‘labor’), and debt relations (‘money’) as well as to the changing role of law in different stages of capitalist development. In contemporary forms of ‘welfare capitalism,’ law’s role may be seen in striking a balance between the quasi-natural laws of the market and the requirements of social and natural life, however contested this may be.

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Work and Consumption