Doubts on Growth: The Discourse on ‘Secular Stagnation’ in the Social Sciences

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A Max Weber Lecture by

Claus Offe
(Hertie School of Governance)

Wednesday 18 February 2015
Refettorio, Badia Fiesolana


Clauss Offe is a political sociologist. He has made substantive contributions to understanding the relationships between democracy and capitalism. His recent work has focused on economies and states in transition to democracy.

The experience of declining growth rates, near-stagnation and deflationary dangers in much of the OECD world has triggered an intense debate on both the feasibility and desirability of economic growth being restored through the adoption of promising policies and institutional reforms. In particular, the current crisis of the Eurozone leads a majority of academic and political observers to believe that strengthening economic growth is the key strategic objective for overcoming the crisis through the achievement of fiscal stability, the improvement of the employment situation, and the general social and political integration of capitalist democracies. At the same time, there is a growing camp of those who doubt either the feasibility and/or the desirability of restoring patterns of economic growth that prevailed in the West throughout most of the post-war period. The lecture will outline five sets of analytical arguments and normative point of view that drive current controversies on the future of economic growth.