Macro Regimes

Project Management: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Klüh
Project Team: Andreas Kaltwasser, M.A.

How do political-economic regimes emerge? How do they remain stable over time and what ultimately initiates their decay? There are many attempts to explain questions like these, but they often remain within the limits of their scientific discipline. This project aims to combine insights from political science, sociology and macroeconomics in order to balance the blind spots of individual disciplines and gain a more comprehensive understanding of the processes mentioned above. On the one hand, historical regime changes that have already been completed will be examined, and on the other hand, the potential of gaining knowledge about contemporary developments will be explored.

Research context and definitions of terms

A first and yet recurring challenge in the application of this interdisciplinary approach will be the linguistic mediation between scientific disciplines – often already individual research approaches. This is already evident in the term “regime”, which differs from the colloquial use of a dictatorship supported by military force: Here he means a specific form of economic policy, which is reproduced by economic circumstances, convergence of expectations (e.g. on a global political level), as well as social ideas and norms.

Here, a sheer infinite number of approaches from the three disciplines mentioned above can be used to produce explanatory attempts and to link them as complementarily as possible.


The emergence, reproduction and disintegration of macro regimes can be explained by a number of interlinked aspects; for example, it is not only economic performance indicators, but also their use and interpretation in political rhetoric that may convince potential voters. At the same time, the latter is influenced by socially prevailing norms, cultural values and ideas about one’s own history, among other things, while political actions must relate not only to the people to be represented, but also to international relations.

The number of partial aspects to be considered forces us pragmatically to focus on a regime change, whereby the change towards the liberalization of Western politics, which can roughly be located in the late 70s and early 80s, offers itself, since its influence is probably still recognizable today and it has already been illuminated from a variety of perspectives. Of particular interest in this case study, which is often associated with Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Paul Volcker, seems to be the use of “alternativelessness” as a rhetorical figure.

Further interesting questions can be linked to this, for example the complex question of the “factual” foundation of this assertion, i.e. whether actually no alternative was conceivable or whether it simply could not/should not be seen. Further consideration should be given to whether this actual or perceived lack of alternative also played a central role in other regime changes.

Methods of investigation

Initially, planning is limited to literature research and macroeconomic data series analysis. Due to the above-mentioned set of potential links to usable scientific theories, it will take a considerable amount of time to sift through them and then select those that complement each other particularly well.