Explaining political tunnel vision: Politics and economics in crisis-ridden Europe, then and now

Stephanie L. Mudge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The grip of austerity in European politics since 2008 presents a double puzzle: electorally weak center-left parties offering no definite alternative, and the surprisingly efficient pursuit of "fiscal consolidation". To understand this double puzzle this article investigates the institutional bases of alternative economic thinking during the 1930s versus the post-2008 crisis years. Noting the recent prominence of a new social type, the European economist-technocrat (eet), I highlight the historically specific order to which the eet is indigenous: rarefied, international professional circuits that tend to work over, not through, party politics. This contrasts sharply with the nationally-based, party-connected economists who developed new economic orthodoxies between the 1930s and 1960s, including Keynes himself. Approaching the study of economic culture in the public sphere in a Polanyian moral markets framework, I argue that the linkages between European economics and financial technocracies help to explain Europe's double puzzle. Theoretically, I argue that a focus on expertise and parties, and not just states, is central to our understanding of economic culture in the public sphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-91
Number of pages29
JournalArchives Europeennes de Sociologie
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 30 2015


  • Austerity
  • Economics
  • European Union
  • Expertise
  • Political parties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Explaining political tunnel vision: Politics and economics in crisis-ridden Europe, then and now'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this