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States, Markets and Politics


Admission requirements



The seminar focuses on the interrelations between states and markets from a broad social science perspective. Along with economic thinkers we will discuss states and markets as opposite coordination and allocation mechanisms, study the key assumptions behind this approach, and examine its implications. Along with sociological and institutional theorists we will examine markets as social formations, embedded in their social environment. We will deepen our understanding of state-market interrelations by looking at the historical development of markets and examining the varieties of capitalism. From this analytical basis we will also discuss current policies that attempt to create public sector markets and the results and challenges of these efforts. The seminar aims at developing a deeper and complex understanding of state-market interrelations that is not only relevant for explaining broad social phenomena but that contributes to rigorous thinking about current public policy and management issues.

Course objectives

  • Understanding key arguments in the states vs. markets discussion

  • Ability to contrast the assumptions and arguments related the topic from the perspective of economics, philosophy, sociology and political science

  • Ability to recognise the market vs. state issues in the case of real-life policies and strategies at the global, national, local and organisational level

  • Apply these different analytical frameworks on current policy problems


On the right side of programme front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Brightspace.

Mode of instruction

The course consists of weekly seminars and self study.

Total study load: 140 hrs

  • Contact hours: 7 × 2hrs (14 hrs)

  • Self-study hours: 126 (preparing for classes ca 12 hrs x 7 weeks, take-home exam with preparation time 40 hrs)

Assessment method

Take-home exam, open and essay questions, 100%. Resit: new exam of the same format.
The deadline will be specified on the course Brightspace page.

More information about participation in exams can be found in the Rules & Regulations.

Reading list

  • Sandel, M. (2012) What Money Can’t Buy. The Moral Limits of Markets. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

  • Academic papers (to be downloaded online via university library)


Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Registration in uSis is possible from 7 March, 13.00h. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results.

Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. After enrolment for the course in uSis you will be automatically enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.


Dr. Maarja Beerkens