Association for social politics

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The Verein für Socialpolitik (VfS) is an economic association in the German-speaking area . It is based in Berlin . It currently has approximately 3,800 personal and 48 corporate members. The association publishes the series of publications by the Verein für Socialpolitik (New Series) and two journals ( German Economic Review and Perspektiven der Wirtschaftsppolitik ).

In 23 permanent specialist committees, it deals with all branches of economics. Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln has been chairwoman since 2019 .


The association was founded in 1873, the first chairman was Rudolf von Gneist , who was replaced in the following year by the previous deputy Erwin Nasse . Adolf Held was secretary from 1873. The association included economists such as Gustav von Schmoller (chairman 1890–1917), Adolf Wagner and Lujo Brentano .

In connection with the great upswing in Prussia and Germany, a new school of economics arose, which tried to find a bridge between the Manchester liberals and the social-revolutionary ideas of emerging socialism on historical-psychological grounds . The revolutionary agitation of Ferdinand Lassalle or Karl Marx seemed to them just as unsuitable as the laissez-faire policies of the liberals to improve the situation of the workers. The historical school created a constitution for itself in the formation of the Verein für Socialpolitik and more and more influenced public interest in Germany and beyond through its publications.

Heinrich Bernhard Oppenheim coined the term “ Kathedersozialisten ” for the members in order to brand them as representatives of an anti-liberal state interventionism. According to Gustav v. Schmoller and the members wanted to “raise, educate and reconcile the lower classes on the basis of the existing order so that they fit into the organism in harmony and peace”. At the time of the freedom of trade , workers' rights were minimal and their treatment was often inhumane. In addition, until the establishment of the social security system in the 1880s (Wilhelmine Germany was considered a pioneering nation of modern social policy), workers hardly had any protection against inability to work, illness or unemployment and serious injuries and death at work were often part of everyday work at that time.

The teaching of the historical school quickly found public interest beyond Germany; so in the English factories and the North American Academy of Political and Social Science . Her scientific work on social affairs not only had a great effect on the generation then growing up, but also on German politics, especially Otto von Bismarck . The representatives of this school significantly influenced German political science from 1860 to 1914 and placed it on a much broader foundation than the purely mathematical analysis of classical economics.

However, the association itself was not an organization of the labor movement; it was only in exceptional cases that union officials, for example, could speak for themselves and present their positions. There was no interest in the opinion of social democrats and social democratic trade unionists, who at the time had a strongly socialist orientation. After serious internal disputes, the socio-political "agitation association" developed into a politically neutral, interdisciplinary society. In 1936 the association disbanded itself to the DC circuit to escape. In 1948 it was re-established. Since 1956 he has had the suffix Society for Economic and Social Sciences .


At the Vienna Conference in 1909 there were “sharp conflicts” over socio-political issues, especially value judgments in sociology. These became known under the term value judgment dispute , the main opponents were Max Weber , Werner Sombart and Gustav Schmoller . This difference of opinion played a “serious role” in the separation of the German Society for Sociology (DGS) from the VfS, although it is doubted that this was the main point of contention. Weber demanded for the DGS that, in contrast to the VfS, it should not pursue any “socio-political, practical goals and ideals”.

After the “controversial” VfS conference in 1972 on “Power and Economic Law”, economists founded the Political Economy Working Group to discuss Marxian , Keynesian , critical neoclassical and institutional theories.

At the annual VfS conference in 1992, economist Christiane Busch-Lüty and physicist Hans-Peter Dürr gave a joint lecture on “Economy and Nature”. Busch-Lüty stated that the approach of a “decidedly transdisciplinary and holistic ecological economy has and will not have any chance of a scientific home there in the foreseeable future.” This led to the foundation of the Association for Ecological Economy in 1996.

2012 today organized network plurals Economics risen Working Group Real World Economics to Helge Peukert and Christoph Freydorf a counter event VfS meeting in Göttingen . The multi-day parallel program offered space for research directions and researchers who, in the opinion of the organizers, would otherwise be excluded. To this end, they formulated an open letter to the Verein für Socialpolitik, in which they called for “a variety of theories instead of intellectual monoculture”, “a variety of methods instead of applied mathematics” and “self-reflection instead of unquestioned, normative assumptions”. The association's chairman Michael Burda replied to the letter in August 2013. Rudolf Hickel described the answer on the reflection pages as an unbelievable provocation and commented: "This is a testimony to poverty that shows that this predominant economy has not learned anything from the financial market crisis." Arne Heise commented on Burda's letter in the Handelsblatt : "There is nothing to be seen of critical self-reflection in view of the failure in reality."

A joint discussion event followed in 2013, and in 2014 a session organized by the critical economists in the regular conference program, which was criticized by VfS members. In the same year, the Plural Economics Network, together with international groups, published a renewed appeal with a similar content. Studies carried out among the doctoral and post-doctoral students of the association showed that a good half of the statement tended to agree that current economic research is too focused on mathematical modeling. Almost half said that the research was not sufficiently oriented towards real problems and more than 60 percent agreed that historical experience was not used in sufficient form.

In 2015 there was a step backwards in the debate, the dialogue failed and so “the VfS left the dissatisfied out again”, which is why another “unsolicited” counter-event was organized. Helge Peukert stated that the objective of the supplementary pluralistic conference was to "show that there are enough serious economic approaches beyond the mainstream and that ... enough space would be available to allow more plurality at the official annual conference." The conference of the American Allied Social Sciences Association served as an example called, in which all economic currents are allowed to "organize their own program". Dennis Snower , who had organized a "Plural Session" for VfS, advocated a joint conference to broaden the perspective. The association rejected the charge of scientific exclusion. A VfS board member stated his impression “that it is more about a political agenda than a constructive discussion about the content of the curriculum.” In the Süddeutsche it was criticized that the association refused to have “a real debate”.


The association awards the following awards annually:

  • Gossen Prize for an economist from the German-speaking area who has gained international renown with his work.
  • Gustav Stolper Prize for outstanding scientists who, with their knowledge of economic research, have influenced the public discussion of economic relationships and problems and have made important contributions to understanding and solving economic problems.
  • Reinhard Selten Prize ( Young Author Best Paper Award ) for contributions that are particularly characterized by originality, the importance of the question and the clean methodology. The prize, endowed with 3000 euros, is awarded to authors who are under 32.
  • Carl Menger Prize "for innovative, international research achievements in the fields of monetary macroeconomics, monetary policy and currency policy", which was jointly donated by the Deutsche Bundesbank , the Austrian National Bank and the Swiss National Bank and is endowed with 20,000 euros.

Known members

Chairwoman of the Association for Social Policy
Period Chairman
1872-1874 Rudolf von Gneist
1874-1890 Erwin Nasse
1890-1917 Gustav von Schmoller
1917-1929 Heinrich Herkner
1929-1931 Christian Eckert
1931-1935 Werner Sombart
1935-1936 Constantin von Dietze
1949-1954 Gerhard Albrecht
1955-1958 Walther G. Hoffmann
1959-1962 Fritz Neumark
1963-1966 Erich Schneider
1967-1970 Helmut Arndt
1971-1974 Hans Karl Schneider
1975-1988 Wilhelm Krelle
1979-1982 Helmut Hesse
1983-1986 Ernst Helmstädter
1987-1991 Gernot Gutmann
1992-1996 Wolfgang Bühler
1997-2000 Hans-Werner Sinn
2001-2004 Martin Hellwig
2005-2008 Friedrich Schneider
2009-2011 Lars-Hendrik Röller
2011-2014 Michael C. Burda
2015-2016 Monika Schnitzer
2016-2019 Achim Wambach
2019– Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln

See also

Literature and Sources

  • The archive of the Verein für Socialpolitik is kept in the North Rhine-Westphalia State Archive, Rhineland Department .
  • Franz Boese: History of the Association for Social Policy, 1872-1932 . Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1939.
  • Dieter Lindenlaub: Directional struggles in the Association for Social Policy: Science and Social Policy in the Empire, primarily from the beginning of the 'New Course' to the outbreak of World War I (1890–1914) . Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 1967.
  • Gustav Schmoller : Outline of general economics. Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1900, p. 119 ( online ).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Stefan Reccius, Bert Losse: This is how the shooting star of the economic scene ticks. In: WirtschaftsWoche. March 28, 2019, accessed September 23, 2019 .
  2. On the founding history cf. Collection of sources on the history of German social policy from 1867 to 1914 , Department I: From the time when the Reich was founded to the Imperial Social Message (1867–1881), Volume 8: Basic issues of social policy in public discussion: churches, parties, clubs and associations, edited by Ralf Stremmel, Florian Tennstedt and Gisela Fleckenstein, Darmstadt 2006, no. 46–103, no. 106–120, no. 122–124.
  3. ^ A b Otthein Rammstedt: Freedom of values ​​and the constitution of sociology in Germany . In: Zeitschrift für Soziologie , Vol. 17, Issue 4, August 1988, pp. 264–271.
  4. a b Wolfgang Glatzer: German Society for Sociology (DGS): The academic sociological association since 1909 ,, accessed on February 3, 2015.
  5. M. Rainer Lepsius: Max Weber and the founding of the German Society for Sociology ( Memento of the original from March 7, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. ,, accessed on February 3, 2015. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. a b Political Economy Working Group ( Memento of the original from October 3, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , accessed February 8, 2015. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. Hans K. Schneider (Ed.): Power and economic law (=  writings of the Association for Socialpolitik . Volume 74 ). Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1972, ISBN 3-428-02965-8 .
  8. ^ A b Christiane Busch-Lüty, Hans-Peter Dürr : Economy and Nature: Attempting to approach in interdisciplinary dialogue . In: Heinz König (Hrsg.): Environmentally compatible economy as a problem of science and politics (=  writings of the Verein für Socialpolitik ). tape 224 . Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-428-07771-7 , pp. 13–44 ( online at (PDF) [accessed February 3, 2015]). See also the preliminary remark in the online document.
  9. ^ Christiane Busch-Lüty : Foundation of an Association for Ecological Economy in German-speaking countries: Call for members . In: Ökologisches Wirtschaften 1/1996, p. 6.
  10. ^ First pluralistic supplementary event to the VfS annual conference 2012 in Göttingen , Network Plurale Ökonomik, accessed on February 3, 2015.
  11. ^ Norbert Häring, Hans Christian Müller-Dröge: Association for Social Policy: When Economists Clash , Handelsblatt , September 13, 2012.
  12. ^ Olaf Storbeck: Parallel conference: Critical economists among themselves . In: Handelsblatt , September 7, 2012.
  13. ^ Open letter , Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomik, accessed on February 3, 2015.
  14. Stefan Holz and Wendelin Sandkühler: Clear announcement from the student parliament of the University of Cologne: Students want "Plural Economics" . NRhZ-Online , November 21, 2012.
  15. Michael Burda : Letter to Thomas Dürmeier (PDF) August 9, 2013.
  16. The chairman of the Verein für Socialpolitik sees no deficits in teaching and research , Nachdenkseiten , August 20, 2013.
  17. Burda leaves the criticism cold . Handelsblatt , August 19, 2013.
  18. ^ A b Johannes Pennekamp: Mainstream Economy: Competition of Ideas . , September 2, 2015
  19. ^ A b c Sebastian Puschner: As with St. Pauli and Bayern Munich . Friday , September 9, 2015
  20. International student appeal for plural economics., accessed February 3, 2015.
  21. Friedemann Bieber: Economics: Please less monotonous ( memento of the original from February 4, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . In: FAZ , September 7, 2014. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  22. Alfons J. Weichenrieder and Danilo Zehner: Assessments of PhD and Postdoctoral Time . Results of a survey among members of the Verein für Socialpolitik. In: Perspectives of Economic Policy . tape 15 , no. 3 , 2014, p. 256–270 , doi : 10.1515 / pwp-2014-0016 ( MPRA preprint [PDF]).
  23. a b c d Jan Willmroth: Economics: Two Worlds . Süddeutsche Zeitung , September 9, 2015.
  24. 2nd pluralistic supplementary event to the annual meeting of the Verein für Socialpolitik. Website of the Plural Economics Network, accessed on September 12, 2015.
  25. ↑ The Pluralism I Mean - On the Advocates of the Ruling Doctrine and the Advocates of a New Diversity . In: Handelsblatt , August 24, 2015, p. 11.
  26. ^ Bert Losse: Lisa Großmann from the Network Plurale Ökonomik: "We are not wanted" . Wirtschaftswoche , August 27, 2015.
  27. ^ Norbert Häring: Economist Dennis Snower: "Emotions are neglected" , Handelsblatt , September 9, 2015.
  28. The divided future - why the most traditional German economists club is so polarizing . Wirtschaftswoche , August 14, 2015, p. 33.
  29. Bert Losse: Zoff in the economists' camp: Is economics stubborn? Wirtschaftswoche , August 14, 2015.
  30. "It's about making people feel better" . Interview with Monika Schnitzer . , September 8, 2015.
  31. ^ Carl Menger Prize ,, accessed on February 3, 2015.
  32. ^ Hélène Rey awarded the Carl Menger Prize , website of the Deutsche Bundesbank , September 10, 2014.