Should the Western democracies, contrary to their prevailing self-image as "planned" and "managed," be seen as highly disorganized systems of social power and political authority? If so, what are the symptoms, consequences of, and possible remedies for these disorganizing tendencies?
In these ten essays, Claus Offe seeks to answer such questions. Moving beyond the boundaries of both Marxism and established forms of political sociology, he focuses on the growth of serious divisions within the work force (and between the employed and unemployed), the importance of the "informal" sector, the severe difficulties faced by trade unions in coping with the present economic crisis, the vulnerability of neocorporatist mechanisms, and the failures of state policymaking based on either majority rule or bureaucratic administration.
In examining these and other fundamental problems of advanced capitalist democracies, Offe also contests some widely held assumptions of contemporary social science. He calls into question the neutrality of liberal democratic mechanisms of participation and representation, the centrality of the category of work and the division between labor and capital, and the feasibility and desirability of full employment.
Claus Offe is the author of numerous books and essays, including Contradictions of the Welfare State (MIT Press paperback). He is currently Professor of Political Science and Sociology in the Faculty of Sociology, University of Bielefeld, West Germany. John Keane is Senior Lecturer in Political Theory and Sociology at the Polytechnic of Central London. Disorganized Capitalism is included in the series, Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought, edited by Thomas McCarthy.
About the Author
Claus Offe has researched and lectured widely throughout Europe and North America and is Professor in the Faculty of Sociology at the University of Bielefeld.