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Discourses of Industry in Postwar Britain and Germany

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Abstract

Deindustrialization is regularly invoked in studies of advanced capitalism, yet a consideration of both its historical causes and its differential impacts on political outcomes in countries over time remains elusive. Adopting a historical institutional approach, this paper seeks to link the origins and effects of deindustrialization in Britain and Germany since the 1960s. These two countries are widely seen as reflecting different political approaches towards deindustrialization, with the former embracing and even accelerating the shift to a more service-oriented economy and the latter seeking to minimize the impact of such changes. The paper argues that variation in the British and German outcomes has been crucially shaped in the past half-century by the countries’ respective political economic institutions and their contrasting national policy discourses on economic competitiveness.

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