The Social Market Economy. Incipiency and Topicality of an Economic and Social Policy for a European Community

AuthorChristian L. Glossner
PositionUniversity of Oxford, United Kingdom
T EA U R, V. 1 N. 0/2014
The Social Market Economy. Incipiency and Topicality of
an Economic and Social Policy for a European Community
Christian L. Glossner*
Abstract. This contribution on the economic reconstruction of post-war West Germany traces the
development of ideas about economic and socio-political publicity, and their gradual absorption
by mainstream politicians, officials and the general public during the period of transition between
1945 and 1949. In those years, several German think tanks, political parties and individuals gave
impulse to and then shaped the development of a viable socio-political and economic model between
the extremes of laissez-faire capitalism and the collectivist planned economy. In their endeavours to
bring into effect their particular economic ideas – often diametrically opposed to one another – the
parties of left and right stimulated not only academic and political but also public debate about the
political and economic reconstruction of occupied post-war Germany. While all the various neo-
liberal approaches attached to the people sovereign and decisive status in the institutional economic
order, and recognised the interdependence of politics, economics and the public, one particular school
of economic thought outpaced the others in communicating a model of coordinated economic and
social policy, namely the Social Market Economy.
Keywords: Social Market Economy; Germany; European Community
Exactly sixty years after its political implementation and public validation
in post-war West Germany1, the Social Market Economy as the Federal
Republic’s distinctive model of coordinated economic and social policy
was constitutionally anchored as a guiding idea in the Lisbon Treaty of the
European Union entering force on 1 December 2009 (Treaty of Lisbon, art.
2, par. 3). While the German variant of a neo-liberal economic and socio-
* University of Oxford, United Kingdom
1 For a more detailed account, see C.L. Glossner (2010).

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