The 2008 financial and debt crisis still affects many European countries and poses big challenges. Strong economic, social and political dislocations threaten Europe’s social cohesion and political unity.
Although being rooted in a deep structural change in the financial system and its modified interplay with other societal spheres, a profound analysis of the financial crisis and these intertwining developments is still missing. But without a manifold survey, the potential solutions to the crisis‘ effects and consequences remain highly vague.
A deeper understanding of the causes and consequences of the financial crisis requires research approaches that go beyond the insights of (financial) economics. The BMBF funding initiative »Financial System and Society« thus fosters a broader perspective which takes into account a plurality of theories and methodologies from different social sciences. This seems particularly necessary, because the financial system’s and societal changes are deeply intertwined. The structural change of the financial system in the last decades goes back to a fundamental change in its meaning for the economy, politics and society. Many structures that are seen as the main causes of today’s crisis result from past efforts to solve socio-political problems. For instance, originally, the deregulation was supposed to foster the easy access to global financial markets for corporations and governments, as well as to support economic growth and employment and a quick modernization for poor regions and countries.
Simultaneously, the risks of the growing private and public actors’ debts, of the financial market’s volume expansion and of the growing complexity of financial instruments were mostly repressed. Many actors believed that the boom of the financial markets would proceed forever and that a major crisis could be prevented (»this-time-is-different-syndrome«). The fall of Lehman brothers became a symbol for the fragility and instability of the global financial system and brought to uncover this big misjudgment.
The funding initiative »Financial System and Society« allows sociologists, economic historians, political scientists, business ethicists, and economists to contribute to a better understanding of the forms and causes of the structural change of the financial system as well as of its interplay with other social spheres (e.g. the »real«-economy, politics, welfare services, sciences and the civil society). The scientists seek to explain how economic, social, political, and cultural developments relate to the interplay of finance and society and to provide reform ideas for political, economic and civil-society actors. Running from 2015 to 2018, the funding initiative’s eight research projects (including two research groups) are located in ten different German cities.
For the project descriptions please click here.