The Idea of Social Justice, Genuine or Spurious?

Sep 06, 2012

Lecture at the GHI | Speaker: Wilfried Hinsch (Universität zu Köln) | Lecture Series: Social Justice in Times of Crisis: A Transatlantic Comparison

Limiting the social costs of market capitalism and its potentially destabilizing effects has become a central concern of governments in modern societies. Especially in times of crisis, when the risk of social disintegration was presumably high, politicians appear to have advocated the "just" distribution of economic benefits and burdens in order to secure social stability. Exactly how this can be achieved has been subject to substantial debate. Social justice as a concept has thus inspired and justified very different policies. Welfare is often viewed as the "European" approach to social justice while the focus on equality of opportunities is commonly seen as its "American" counterpart. Recent scholarship has called into question, however, whether national or regional exceptionalism really characterizes the history of social justice and social policies in the late 19th and 20th centuries. The lecture series explores the idea that it might be better understood as the history of transnational transfers and mutual influence. To what extent and under which circumstances did Europeans and Americans show the same responses to social crises? When and how did they transfer ideas of social justice or social policy instruments? Can we still identify a distinctly American approach to social justice?

Fall Lecture Series 2012

Social Justice in Times of Crisis: A Transatlantic Comparison

organized by Clelia Caruso and Uwe Spiekermann


  • The Idea of Social Justice: Genuine or Spurious?
    September 6, 2012
    Speaker: Wilfried Hinsch (Universität zu Köln)
  • Markets, States, and Social Justice in the Era of High Industrial Capitalism: Contrasts and Connections across the Atlantic
    October 11, 2012
    Speaker: Daniel Rodgers (Princeton University)
  • Parallels, Networks, and Convergences: Women and Social Justice in Transnational Perspective
    October 25, 2012
    Speaker: Sonya Michel (University of Maryland, College Park)
  • The End of the Social Democratic Era? Crisis in the Conceptualization of Social Justice in the 1970s and 1980s
    December 6, 2012
    Speaker: Martin Geyer (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)