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Claus Offe

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.

Titles by This Author

The East European and East German Experience

Claus Offe has spent most of his career analyzing the inner workings (and nonworkings) of Western democracies. After the upheavals of the late 1980s, however, his attention was drawn increasingly to the East, and particularly to the transformations occurring in the former German Democratic Republic.

The nine essays collected here, all written within the last few years, report what Offe has learned. They explore such topics as the characteristics and shortcomings of state socialist societies and of democratic capitalism, the role of ethnic politics in East European transitions, issues of retribution and restitution in the transition to a democratic society based on a private economy, and the effects the collapse of Communism have had on Western democracies and on the Left in particular. Three essays focus on the "special path" to capitalism followed by the former GDR, including a fascinating comparison between post-1945 West Germany and post-1989 East Germany.

East, West

Clause Offe, one of the most insightful contemporary theorists of society and politics, has contributed greatly to our understanding of social policy and the odyssey of advanced capitalism in the late twentieth century. Modernity and the State, a dozen essays written over the last decade, develops his earlier lines of interest and extends them to the new societies emerging in Central-Eastern Europe.

Offe frames the essays by suggesting that the key question for analyzing present-day Western democracies is, Who is in charge? He traces the recent problems of almost all political leaders to four factors: the end of the Cold War, borders that are increasingly porous, "postmodern" social and political trends that make it increasingly difficult to form long-standing coalitions, and the loss of clear-cut work categories of the sort that once made collective action feasible.

The essays are divided into four parts. "Modernity and Self-Limitation" explores the contradictory relationship between modernity and liberty and the possibilities of renewing civil society so as to alleviate this contradiction. "State Theory: Continuities and Reorientation" applies the concepts and categories developed in the first part to recent policy debates over deregulation, market orthodoxy, and the most effective forms of democratic practice. "The Politics of Social Welfare," the heart of the book, explores the extent to which market outcomes must be accepted (in the name of efficiency) or corrected (in the name of justice and equity). "The New East" argues that the issue of balancing and correcting market outcomes is as central and contested in the new market economies of Central-Eastern Europe as it has always been in the West, and that the success of democratization will depend on the extent to which the operation of the labor market is mitigated by appropriate structures of social security.

Contemporary Transformations of Work and Politics

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.

Claus Offe is one of the leading social scientists working in Germany today, and his work, particularly on the welfare state, has been enormously influential both in Europe and the United States. Contradictions of the Welfare State is the first collection of Offe's essays to appear in a single volume in English, and it contains a selection of his most important recent work on the breakdown of the post-war settlement.

The political writings in this book are primarily concerned with the origins of the present difficulties—what Offe calls the 'crises of crisis management'—of welfare capitalist states. He indicates why in the present period, these states are no longer capable of fully managing the socio-political problems and conflicts generated by late capitalist societies and discusses the viability of New Right, corporatist, and democratic socialist proposals for restructuring the welfare state.

The book also offers fresh and penetrating insights into a range of other subjects, including social movements, political parties, law, social policy, and labor markets. There is an interview with Claus Offe, prepared especially for this volume, and a substantial introductory chapter by John Keane which links the essays and explores Offe's central themes.

This book is included in the series Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought, edited by Thomas McCarthy.

Titles by This Editor

These thirteen essays by noted philosophers and social theorists continue a timely celebration and examination of Jürgen Habermas's unfinished project of reconstructing enlightenment rationality. Focusing on the cultural and political aspects of Habermas's work, the essays take up critical theory and political practice, the sociology of political practice, historical-philosophical reflections on culture, moral development in childhood and society, and the foundations of critical social theory. Essays in a companion volume,

Philosophical Interventions in the Unfinished Project of Enlightenment, look at the metaphysical aspects of Habermas's work. Together, the two volumes underscore the richness and variety of Habermas's project.

Contributors: Johann P. Amason. Andrew Arato. Seyla Benhabib. Hauke Brunkhorst. Cornelius Castoriadis. Jean Cohen. Helmut Dubiel. Klaus Eder. Günter Frankenberg. Hans-Georg Gadamer. Axel Honneth. Johann Baptist Metz. Gertrud Nunner-Winkler. Claus Offe.

These 11 essays by noted philosophers and social theorists take up the philosophical aspects of Jürgen Habermas's unfinished project of reconstructing enlightenment rationality. They range in subject matter from classical problems to contemporary debates, covering historical perspectives, theoretical issues, and postenlightenment challenges. A companion volume of essays will take up the cultural and political aspects of the work. Together, the two volumes underscore the richness and variety of Habermas's project.

Contributors: Karl-Otto Apel. Richard J. Bernstein. Peter Bürger. Martin Jay. Thomas McCarthy. Herbert Schnädelbach. Charles Taylor. Michael Theunissen. Ernst Tugendhat. Albrecht Wellmer.