The Deserving Rich – A Multi-Disciplinary Analysis of the (Re-)Production of German Wealth
A new interdisciplinary research project featuring a collaboration between Freie Universität Berlin and TU Dortmund University is analyzing wealth and its disparity in Germany
The researchers aim to take a close look at the country’s inheritance tax policies and economic elite. To do so, they will be examining discourses and narratives on “deserved” and “undeserved” wealth in Germany. This interdisciplinary project combines socio-political, philosophical, and empirical research approaches. It is set to be completed over the span of four years and is titled “The Deserving Rich – A Multi-Disciplinary Analysis of the (Re-)Production of (German) Wealth.” The Volkswagen Foundation is supporting the project with a grant of 800,000 euros. The project’s team is made up of philosophers Professor Stefan Gosepath from Freie Universität Berlin’s Cluster of Excellence “Contestations of the Liberal Script (SCRIPTS)” and Professor Christian Neuhäuser from TU Dortmund University, as well as political scientist and economist Professor Philipp Lepenies and political science researcher Martyna Berenika Linartas also from SCRIPTS.
“Extreme wealth disparity poses a threat to liberal democracies, the welfare state, social cohesion,” says Gosepath. According to the researchers, a better understanding of the (re-)production of wealth means first understanding how it is justified and how it is passed down through generations. The team is scrutinizing the legitimacy of such systems and is introducing the term “deserving rich” – analogous to Georg Simmel’s analysis of the “deserving poor.” They are particularly interested in asking how and in what way different narratives can explain the (re-)production of wealth in Germany.
The project focuses on Germany as an empirical case study of the genesis of wealth – the country sees a yearly cumulative inheritance estate of roughly 400 billion euros. “This staggering amount leaves no room for doubt that we’re in the middle of an all-time inheritance high,” says Linartas. The project team wants to raise awareness of these developments and their importance for liberal democracies as well as increase their visibility in scientific research and public debate.
Martyna Berenika Linartas, Freie Universität Berlin, Cluster of Excellence “Contestations of the Liberal Script (SCRIPTS),” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
http://portal.volkswagenstiftung.de/search/projectDetails.do?ref=9C202, Volkswagen Foundation