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Professor Michael Kraetke

Formerly at Lancaster University

Michael Kraetke

PhD supervision

I have supervised 32 doctoral thesis on various topics, mainly in political economy - international and comparative political economy - but also in political and historical sociology. I am interested in the historical and comparative study of patterns of social inequality (including the allegedly old-fashioned class inequalities) - both on the local, national and international or transnational level. I have done a lot of work on the history and the recent developments of welfare states in Europe and in other parts of the world and I am still very much interested in comparative social policy, including transnational (as in EU-Europe) and international social policy.During the last years, my main focus has been on the world economy, on world trade and world finance, including the development and the crises of international financial markets and the international monetary system (or chaos) of the present dollar-standard.

As an economist by training, I have a strong interest in public finance, the development of the modern fiscal state and actual economic and fiscal policies on the national and international level. Fiscal sociology, at the interface of the sociology and the political economy of the modern state, is one of my special fields (an old tradition of mainly German and Italian origin). In my view, and regarding our recent experience, this approach is to be extended to a sociological study of the world of high finance, that is the international financial markets and their main actors.

I am also interested in area or area-related topics like continental Europe (France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Scandinavia) or Asia (China, Japan, South-Korea) or Latin-America (Brazil, Argentina, Mexico). Incidentally, I have supervised theses with a regional focus on Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. Such area topics are, of course, very closely linked to actual issues of world economy and world politics.In this respect, I am strongly interested in the environmental crises of our times and in ecological policies ( I have done a lot of work on the forms and instruments of ecological policies in the past).

Last but not least, I have done a lot of work on some of the classics and the main theoretical traditions in the social sciences. So you could propose to me any topic related to Max Weber, Emile Durkheim and Pierre Bourdieu and the lines of thinking or the specialisations that begin with them (as, for instance, economic sociology). I am also very much interested in Marx, in Marxism and its history and in Marxology proper (I am a collaborator and co-editor of the MEGA, the Complete Works of Marx and Engels, the largest scientific edition project in the social sciences at this moment). The history and theory of social movements, old an new, has also been one of my major topics - including the history and the long term development of socialism in its various guises ( I am at the moment working on editions of hitherto unpublished work by socialist economists like Rosa Luxemburg, Natalia Moszkowska, Helene Bauer).Accordingly, I have supervised theses on projects of social reform (like basic income, or, more ambitious, economic democracy).

Current Teaching

From October 2009 onwards I will teach the following courses: SOCL 302 The World According to Marx

From October 2009 onwards I will teach the following Graduate courses: FASS507 Introduction to the Philosophy of the Social Sciences, SOCL922 Philosophy of the Social Sciences

Research Interests

Main fields of research interests:

1. Political Economy - historical, comparative and international. Political economy as I see it is an opcoming interdiscipline, the outcome of a whole range of long term interdisciplinary research activities. It via a long historical detour back to its predisciplinary roots, to the times of classical political economy when political economy was everything that existed in the social sciences. Political economy / political arithmetic was the first form of social science after it had emancipated itself from theology and moral philosophy. Political economy means many different things today - froma version of appliedneoclassical microeconomics in"public" or "rational choice" to the rather vague description of a no-man's land between politics and economics. There are, accordingly, political economies of nearly everything. Votaries of the interdiscipline of political economy in the making are quite critical of those standard practices and varieties of political economy (which includethe New Political Economy NPE, the International Political Economy IPE and the Comparative Political Economy CPE). The critique of political economy today, to evoke the memory of another venerable enterprise in the history of the social sciences, means no less than taking issues both with the established orthodoxies within the science of economics and with the well entrenched sub-disciplines thatuse the label of 'political economy'.Hence, critical political economy today is confronting several of theintellectual world powers of the social sciences, neoclassical economics, the most influental and powerful of all which has invaded the social sciences following an"imperialist" practice of its own and claiming the position of the emperor of the social sciences, and international relations, the most influental and powerful subdiscipline within the realm ofacademic political science - just to mention the two most formidable opponents. Critical political economy today also means the critique of a lot of "radical" approaches to economic phenomena and it is also engaged in a critique of the economic sociology which has been revived in recent years. The list of the heterodox approaches in this field is quite long, but "pluralism" is not a fruitful practice in the long run. I have a personal preference for what some people call a "neo-institutionalist" approach which is close to and making use of concepts and theories brought forth within sociology and social history as well as of concepts and theories coming from the large tradition of classical political economy.

2. Political Ecology - which is another interdiscipline in the making, going beyond the traditional divides between the sciences and the social sciences.

3. Fiscal / Financial Sociology - the (comparative) sociology of public finance - World money and world politics, the changing (dis)order of the international financial markets, the mountains of debt (public and private) and how we manage to survive in a world dominated by debt driven economies and societies (the USA are the world's largest deficit economy, but there are more, much closer to us). Fiscal sociology is a rather old and long forgotten field of sociological research, created by Austrian, German and Italian scholars after World War I.

4. The Sociology of Social Inequality - and the development of Welfare States: That ongoing research follows the old question why some countries / regions aremore wealthy than others, developing much faster than others. It focusses on the question whether various and variable degrees and different forms of social inequality have an impact upon individuals, communities and societies at large. Quite so, as we know from a long tradition (half forgotten) in the social sciences.

5. Global Labour Relations - an emerging field of interdisciplinary cooperation between social and economic historians, ethnographers, anthropologists, sociologists, economists, political scientists, specialists of cultural studies, linguists and - quite at the core of this enterprise - specialists of women and gender studies. The worlds of labour, work and leizure are

6. State theory - Modern States and modern Societies: The state has been treated as a somewhat obsolete, old-fashioned concept in the social sciences, even in political science it became fashionable to forget about the state as a "conceptual variable". Some of the historical types of modern statehood like the nation or the territorial state have been declared obsolete and powerless in recent years. As usual, such obituaries were highly exagerrated.

7. Marxology: An ongoing research project, the MEGA (abbreviation for Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe) is at the core of all marxological studies at this moment. The MEGA is by far the largest historical critical edition project in the social sciences at present, with more than a hundred collaborators coming from 8 different countries (in Europe, Asia and the America's). In its present form, based upon new editorial principles since 1991, it is the third effort to publish a historical - critical edition of the complete works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It is an exciting project because it leads to the discovery of largely unknown master thinkers of the ninetheenth century as well as to the debunking of a large variety of myths that Marxists and Anti-Marxists have shared since many years. A lot of the original manuscripts of both Marx and Engels have never been published before and a lot of the well known, even classical works of Marxism are texts (including whole books) that Marx and / or Engels have never written! Instead, they have written a lot which is largely unknown even to the majority of the Marxists until this very day.

8. Alternative economic and social systems: Market socialism, economic democracy, producer's self-government, mutualism (and other, related, " real " utopia's). More than 800 million people in the world live and work today within cooperatives, and there is much more if we take everything into account which is conventionally referred to as "social economy" (nearly half of the banking sector in France, for instance).

Additional Information

Publications / Membership in Learned Societies / Fellowships in academic institutions

Select (and updated) bibliography:


- Natali Moszkowska. Marxismus und Keynesianismus, Berlin: Dietz Verlag (forthcoming)

- Geschichte der Weltwirtschaft, Hamburg: VSA (forthcoming)

- Rosa Luxemburg. Eine politische Oekonomin in ihrer Zeit, Berlin: Dietz Verlag 2009

- Die groesste Krise der kapitalistischen Weltwirtschaft, Hamburg: VSA Verlag 2008

- Neun Fragen zum Kapitalismus, Berlin: Dietz Verlag 2007

- Gewalt und Zivilisation, Hannover: OffizinVerlag 2002

- Die Illusion der neuen Freiheit, Hannover: Offizin Verlag 1999

- Oekonomie der Arbeit - Arbeit ohne Oekonomie, Hannover: Offizin Verlag 1997

- Materialien zum Historisch-Kritischen Woerterbuch des Marxismus, Hamburg: Argument Verlag 1996

- Het gelukkige einde van de verzorgingsstaat, Utrecht: CISO 1996

- Distributionary Conflicts as Constraints for the Harmonization of Environmental Policy, Berlin: IOeW Verlag 1995

-Wege aus der Krise des Fordismus, Hamburg: VSA Verlag 1992

- Kritik der Staatsfinanzen. Zur Politischen Oekonomie des Steuerstaats, Hamburg: VSA Verlag 1984

- Gewerkschaftliche Wirtschaftspolitik, Berlin: Verlag Die Arbeitswelt 1982

- Viktor Agartz - Gewerkschaften in der Politik, Berlin: Verlag Die Arbeitswelt 1978

- Krise und Kapitalismus bei Marx, 2 volumes, Koeln: Europaeische Verlagsanstalt 1975

Chapters in Books:

- A very political political economist. Rosa Luxemburg's theory of wages, in: Riccardo Bellofiore (ed), Rosa Luxemburg and the Critique of Political Economy, London - New York: Routledge 2009, pp. 159 - 174

- Gelenkte Wirtschaft und Wirtschaftsdemokratie, in: Reinhard Bispink, Thorsten Schulten (eds), Wirtschaftliche Neuordnung und Expansive Lohnpolitik, Hamburg: VSA Verlag 2008, pp. 82 - 116

- Ueber die Krise der Weltwirtschaft, Demokratie und Sozialismus. Eine unveroeffentlichte Untersuchung Otto Bauers ueber die Weltwirtschaftskrise der dreissiger Jahre, in: Walter Baier (ed), Otto Bauer und der Austromarxismus, Berlin: Dietz Verlag 2008, pp. 167 - 182

- Een meesterdenker uit de 19e eeuw, in: Sjaak van der Velden (ed), De actualiteit van Marx, Amsterdam: Aksant 2008, pp. 94 - 116

- The First World Economic Crisis 1857/58, in: Marcello Musto (ed), Karl Marx's Grundrisse, London - New York: Routledge 2008, pp. 264 - 269

- Marx' Books of Crisis of 1857/58, in: Marcello Musto (ed), Karl Marx's Grundrisse, London - New York: Routledge 2008, pp. 271 - 288

- Die Universitaet als Unternehmen auf dem Bildungsmarkt, in:

Journal Articles:

- Kritische Oekonomie und Kritik der politischen Oekonomie heute, in: Pankower Vortraege, 20. Jg., H.1, 2009, pp. 74 - 88

- Kritik der oeffentlichen Finanzen. Die Finanzkrise des Staates, erneut betrachtet, in: Prokla. Zeitschrift fuer kritische Sozialwissenschaft, H. 154, 39. Jg., 2009, pp.119 - 139


Memberships in Learned Societies:

I am a member of several national and international Associations / Academies / Learned Societes:

- Leibniz Societaet

- World Association of Political Economy

- Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Soziologie

- International Marx - Engels Society (IMES)




I am a fellow of the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam.


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