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Transformations, Struggles, and Imaginaries of the Future Economy

Contemporary societies are facing daunting challenges. Global processes like financialization, automatization and robotics, climate change, rising inequalities and the politics of populism, are significantly altering the functioning of capitalism and democracy. The answers given to these challenges in the next decades will significantly shape the future of the economy and of humanity as a whole. This project intends to analyze contemporary transformations of three core realms affecting the future economy: the public sphere where expectations about economic processes are formed; policymaking processes where public interventions in the economy are decided; and the state as a key economic actor. Using an array of methodologies ranging from ethnographies of public policy to big data and comparative-historical analysis, the project will focus on Europe and Latin America, two regions representing different capitalist and democratic dynamics. Analyzing these transformations, the underlying political struggles, and the emerging imaginaries of the future will allow us to understand, propose, and construct future scenarios in which societies can rebalance economic dynamism with political representation, social cohesion, and environmental protection.

  • Duration: 2020-2022

  • Funding: CONICYT, Chile (MPG190012)

  • Partner institutions: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (MPIfG), Universidad Central de Chile, Universidad Diego Portales (Chile), and Universidad Alberto Hurtado (Chile)

  • Principal investigators: Aldo Madariaga, Jens Beckert (MPIfG)

  • Deputy principal investigator: Mayarí Castillo (CEAS, UMayor)



Line leader 

Felipe Gonzalez

(U Central, Chile)

The struggle over economic facts, expectations and numbers has become a distinctive feature of political contestation. The public economic sphere is the arena of social life where individuals come together to discuss and identify societal problems, imagine ways to tackle crises, and debate how to influence economic policy making; it is an arena in which public discourse stands as a form of social coordination between society, the economy and the State. Interpretations and definitions of the crises are framed and debated, and images of the future become partisan-sponsored beliefs, promoted by actors who seek to shape the way policymakers and public opinion make sense of societal problems. 


Jens Beckert (MPIfG), Felipe González (U Central, Chile), Jorge Atria (UDP, Chile)), Tomás Undurraga (UAH, Chile), Cristóbal Rovira (UDP, Chile).


Line leader

Aldo Madariaga

(CEAS, UMayor, Chile)

Public interventions in the economy take the form of public/economic policy. These are shaped in institutionalized political processes where different actors struggle to impose their interests and ideas on governmental interventions and form coalitions with other actors to influence State decisions. Contributions to this stream can focus on elucidating the politics of public/economic policy in three domains strongly related to today's economic and political challenges: a) macroeconomic policies and growth models, b) automatization, employment, and skills formation; c) climate change and the environment


Aldo Madariaga (CEAS UMayor, Chile), Mayarí Castillo (CEAS, UMayor, Chile), Tomás Undurraga (UAH, Chile)


Line leader
Jorge Atria (U Diego Portales, Chile)

The state constitutes a key actor in capitalist political economies. Successful societal transformations need strong states with able bureaucracies and strong public finances. Public finance plays a key role in the struggles over economic and political resources, contributions and obligations. Contributions to this line tackle the transformation of public finances and the changing role of the state in the economy as seen through the lenses of debt and taxation. 


Jorge Atria (UDP, Chile), Felipe González (U Central, Chile), Cristóbal Rovira (UDP, Chile)

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