Capitalists against financialization : the battle over German pension funds

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2021
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Despite renewed interest in the role of business in shaping the welfare state, we still know little about how factions of capital adapt their strategies and translate these into political infighting and coalition building. Based on a detailed process tracing analysis of the political battle over German pension funds, this paper shows that cleavages within business do not necessarily run along the lines of finance vs. non-finance. While ‘financial challengers’ (banks and investment companies) advocated financialized pension funds, ‘financial incumbents’ (insurers) defended a conservative understanding of old age provision. Tremendous political momentum towards financialization notwithstanding, challengers remained largely unsuccessful. Incumbents elicited support from the wider business community by adjusting their strategic goals and engaging in discursive reformulations to effectively fight pension financialization from within capital. To accommodate such competition politics and coalition building, the paper argues for a more dynamic understanding of business strategizing and highlights the importance of discursive political strategies. It shows that some capitalists may act as antagonists of elements of financialization and problematizes the actual mechanisms of coalition building through which business plurality affects political outcomes.

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320 Politik
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Business power, pension financialization, Germany, discursive institutionalism
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ISO 690RÖPER, Nils, 2021. Capitalists against financialization : the battle over German pension funds. In: Competition & Change. Sage Publishing. 2021, 25(3-4), pp. 428-452. ISSN 1024-5294. eISSN 1477-2221. Available under: doi: 10.1177/1024529421993005
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@article{Roper2021Capit-53280,
  year={2021},
  doi={10.1177/1024529421993005},
  title={Capitalists against financialization : the battle over German pension funds},
  number={3-4},
  volume={25},
  issn={1024-5294},
  journal={Competition & Change},
  pages={428--452},
  author={Röper, Nils}
}
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