Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 2004


Varieties of Capitalism

Dates: 2. - 6. August 2004

Lecturer: Professor Lars Mjøset,
Department of Sociology and Human Geography,
University of Oslo , Norway

The participants:
Martin Beckmann, Tabea Bromberg, Jonas R. Bylund, Ynghong Chen, Lars Coenen, Tom Erik S. Farmen, Barbra S. Frisvold, Sverre Herstad, Pascale Holmgren, Daniel Kenney, Per Kleppe, Kathrin Leuze, Dag Øyvind Madsen, Jerker Moodysson, Astrid Musland, Bjørn Richard Nuland, Raphaël Parchet, Gerhard Schnyder, Jurate Stanaityte, Barbara Vis and Professor Mjøset.

•  Objectives

This course presents the major components of the research programme on varieties of capitalism, which has emerged over the last 20 years. The course concentrates on the varities of capitalist national economies in the richest parts of the world (OECD area). The main objective is to give students an overview of the knowledge on "national capitalisms" that has been accumulated in this research field, and to introduce them to the methodologies (of comparative macro-oriented social science) that have been used to arrive at this knowledge.


The course starts with a discussion of the methodology of studying "models" or "regimes" comparatively. this includes a discussion of why there is often a focus on the level of the state when such models are analysed today. The relation between popular (i.e. in policy advice, public opinion, among politicians) and academic notions of "national models" is also considered.


Since such national models must always be understood in a broader context, the first substantial lecture deals with periodizations of global developments, from the dual perspectives of economic history and geopolitics (thus focusing on shifting global hegemonies).


The study of varieties of capitalism can be conceived as a broad research frontier, constituted by several subfrontiers of research. Lectures 3 to 8 present five such subfields. The most established subfield is the comparison of political systems. As of today, this is the field where the methodology comparative mapping of diversity has brought the most comprehensive results, especially in the form of Rokkan's typological maps of the Western European nation states. A related subfield extends beyond Western Europe, aiming to map state/society-relations both in the developed and the less developed world: coverng this field, the focus is on Senghaas' typology and on Evans' extension of it in the study of the "bureaucratic development state", especially their importance for the analysis of the Asiatic OECD-countries.


Then follows presentations of three subfields which which all encompass more specific (partly overlapping) dimensions: First, the study of economic policy regimes relates to comparisons of welfare states, of financial systems, of government/bureaucracy/parliament-interaction, including relations to organized civil society, as in the contrasting of corporatist and non-corporatist cases (Wilensky), or of coordinated and uncoordinated market economies (Soskise). Second, the study of national innovation systems includes comparisons of institutions promoting technological upgrading and of education/training systems. Third, the study of business systems involve comparisons of institutions affecting corporate governance, relations between firms and the financial sectors, industrial relations and innovation.


The last day's lectures will wind up the discussion of various subfrontiers of research, considering whether broader typologies of capitalism's diversity can be constructed from the knowledge accumulated in the various subfields (in particular, Boyer's contribution will be considered).


The final session launches a debate on the relationship between globalization and diversity: in which respects can we trace convergence and in which respects do we find that globalization spurs diversity?

•  Basic Readings*

*Please obtain basic readings and read in advance of the lectures.

Note: There are no readings from the Whitley book, but it is recommended as general preparatory reading.

•  Lecture Outline and Corresponding Readings

Please find readings marked with † in the booklet privided by Oslo Summer School. The Mjøset readings not found in the booklet will be made available on the www.

Lecture 1

The study of capitalism — basic concepts


Lecture 2

Starting point of a grounded theory approach — dimensions of capitalism


Lecture 3

Phases of world capitalism, a periodization related to the history of the Western world economy

Reading :

Lecture 4

The political and social dimensions of modern Western capitalism


Lecture 5

Varieties of capitalism in the West: focus on firms, industrial relations and corporate management


Lecture 6

Varieties of welfare states

†Mjøset, Lars (2001) "Employment, unemployment, and ageing in the Western European welfare states", in Petit, Pascal and Soete, Luc (eds.), Technology and the Future of European Employment , Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 451-506. 55 pp.

Lecture 7

National systems of innovation


Lecture 8

Capitalism in the non-western world


Lecture 9

The West and the regional state systems of the non-western world


Lecture 10

Summary: What maps do we have?


•  The lecturer

Lars Mjøset is professor of Sociology, working in the field of historical sociology, political (macro-) economy and economic sociology. His projects at ARENA is research on Atlantic, West-European and Nordic Integration. Mjøset has been research leader at Institute for Social Research, Oslo.




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