HHIA04114U CEMES/HIS, European economic identity in the American century

Volume 2014/2015
Modern European Studies (CEMES):
Modern European Studies 1 (Subject element HHIK03701E) [2013-Curriculum]
Modern European Studies 2 (Subject element HHIK03711E) [2013-Curriculum]

Module I-VI [MA Programme, 2008-Curriculum]
Module I-VI [MA-elective Programme, 2008-Curriculum]
BA-level [Internal BA-elective for BA students of History]
Module T4 (Subject element HHIB10501E) [BA-elective studies, 2007- and 2013-Curriculum]
Module T5 (Subject element HHIB10511E) [BA-elective studies, 2007- and 2013-Curriculum]

European economic identity in the American century
The 20th century has often been called the “American century”, referring to the increasing influence of the United States in the world. Starting with its rise as a major industrial power at the end of the 19th century, competing with Britain and the German Reich in the struggle for global markets and national prestige, the American (economic) empire both appealed to and penetrated the politics, (mass) cultures and economies of European countries. Once the foundations for the integration of Europe’s economies were laid following the end of World War II, this process – sometimes described as Americanization, sometimes as the cultural transfer of American ideas, norms, practices, and values to Europe – also affected Europe as a region. The idea of continuing American influence on European businesses and policymakers alike begs the question of just how Americanized the economies of the old continent have become. So, how has “European economic identity” fared in the American century? This question is the starting point for a systematic exploration of American influence on European economic identity in the 20th century, which we will undertake in this course.

To understand the multiple facets of the Americanization of the European economy in the 20th century we will pursue a number of key questions including: who are the drivers of Americanization (countries, regions, economic sectors, specific businesses)? How can we conceptualize the conditions that make politicians, policymakers and entrepreneurs consider new production and management ideas and new values and transfer them into their countries? Does change occur in response to economic turmoil (caused by war and/or recession/depression)? Or is only the strength of the American economy responsible for its lasting pull? Was the American economic empire equally well received in the different politico-economic traditions of the United Kingdom, Germany, France and the Scandinavian countries, for example? And, finally, what are the limits of Americanization?

A combination of introductory lectures, guest lectures by specialists in the field (t.b.c.) and a number of seminar activities including student presentations, small-group work and the general discussion of key readings and sources will equip students with the skills to analyze and describe the forces, processes and themes associated with the Americanization of the European economy in the 20th century. At the same time this course will guide students in developing a long-term historical perspective on one of the most hotly debated questions of our time, namely why (most of) Europe today shares with the US an essentially neoliberal outlook on the economy, evidenced by continuing deregulation, privatization and the decline of the welfare state.

Course objectives (clarification of some of the objectives stipulated in the curriculum):
• analyze and describe the forces, processes and themes associated with the Americanization of the European economy in the 20th century
• evaluate the historical literature and selected primary sources pertaining to Americanization and American influence on European economic identity
• apply different tools associated with Americanization/cultural transfer to specific case studies
• communicate and discuss the key themes of the course clearly and effectively, orally and in writing

- Harm G. Schröter: Americanization of the European Economy: A Compact Survey of American Economic Influence in Europe since the 1880s. Dordrecht: Springer, 2005.
- Victoria de Grazia: Irresistible Empire: America's Advance through Twentieth-Century Europe. Cambridge/MASS and London: Belknap Press, 2005.
Group instruction / Seminar
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Total
  • 56