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States, Markets and Politics



The seminar focuses on the interrelations between states and markets from a broad social science perspective. Along with economic thinkers we will discuss states/politics 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.

Learning objectives

  • Understanding some key texts and 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 recognize 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



Methods of instruction

This course consists of tutorials and is compulsory.

Study load

  • total study load: 140 hrs – contact hours: 7 × 3hrs (21 hrs) – self-study hours: 120 (preparing for classes ca 12 hrs x 7 weeks, take-home exam 40 hrs)

Method of assessment

Take-home exam, essay questions, 100%, resit: new exam of the same format


Yes, Available the first day of the block.

Other course materials/literature

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)


Registration for every course and exam in USIS is mandatory. For courses, registration is possible from four weeks up to three days before the start of the course.
For exams, registration is possible from four weeks up to ten days before the date of the examination.


Dr. Maarja Beerkens
Tel: (0)71 527 3751