Playing Normative Legacies: Partisanship and Employment Policies in Crisis-Ridden Europe

Tobias Schulze-Cleven, Timo J. Weishaupt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Europe’s affluent democracies adopted different policy strategies to buffer their labor markets from the effects of the worldwide recession that followed the financial crisis in 2007. This article offers a sociologically anchored historical institutionalist explanation to account for this divergence. Reviewing the politics of employment policymaking before, during, and after the crisis in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Denmark, the article traces partisan actors’ tactics of maneuvering within the constraints of institutionally embedded mass preferences to legitimate their policies and improve their electoral performance. The analysis moves beyond contemporary treatments of path-dependent institutional evolution in two important ways. Rather than focusing on how arrangements at the work-welfare nexus provide actors with particular functional benefits and differential power resources, it examines institutions’ ideational effects on the construction of electorates’ interests. Moreover, it illuminates partisan politicians’ room for strategic agency, breaking with interpretations that view government responses as the product of particular producer group coalitions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-299
Number of pages31
JournalPolitics and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 3 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations


  • employment policy
  • financial crisis
  • historical institutionalism
  • ideas
  • institutional change


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