Cultural Political Economy and Crisis in Europe
This sabbatical project promotes a novel explanation of the rift between Northern and Southern member states of the European Union on economic governance. The project argues that the divisions that surface in crisis situations like the Eurozone or the Covid-19 crisis, are rooted in different economic theories which are historically anchored in the economic ethics of the different branches of Christianity. Economic theory prevalent in Northern Europe is grounded in Protestant ethics. The ideas that serve as blueprint for the political economies of Southern Europe are built on Catholic and Orthodox social thinking. The assumptions about human nature that ground these economic theories are at odds with one another. By approaching the cultural embedding of economic theory, the project generates new insights into how economic ideas are legitimized by using ethics that are culturally embedded. For this purpose the project develops the neo-Weberian framework of Cultural Political Economy. By carving out the ethics embodied in economic theory and showing their connection to specific cultural background, phenomena like the coalition of the so called “frugal four” during the covid-19 crisis become more intelligible. It also helps to make sense of the portraying of debtor countries during the Eurozone crisis as PIIGS and the stylizing of the Eurozone crisis as a ‘morality tale’ of Northern Saints and Southern Sinners.