Today, the Verein für Socialpolitik (German Economic Association) is an association of about 4.000 German-speaking economists from over 20 countries, primarily Germany, Austria and Switzerland. As one of the largest and oldest associations of economists in the world, our organization aims to further the development and internationalization of economics and related fields.
The Early Years
The Verein für Socialpolitik was founded in 1873. The establishment of the association can be traced to a meeting of journalists, scientists, political activists, and businesspeople, and was directed against two popular extreme ideas of the day. One was laissez-faire social policy propagated by the German Manchester School. The other was the emerging revolutionary idea of socialism.
The objective of the founders, which were soon known as "armchair socialists" (Kathedersozialisten), was - in the words of chairman Gustav Schmoller (who served from 1890 to 1917) - to "lift, educate, and reconcile the lower classes on the basis of the existing order, so that they would fit into the organism in harmony and peace”.
Under the stewardship of Schmoller, the Verein evolved from a sociopolitical "Agitation Club" into a more neutral, multidisciplinary association, but was marked by a series of internal conflicts.
Dissolution and a New Beginning
The continuity of more than 190 published volumes of “Schriften des Vereins für Socialpolitik” (Annals of the Verein für Socialpolitik) was interrupted suddenly in 1936, when the Verein’s members voluntarily disbanded the association to avoid forced co-optation into the National Socialist "German Economics Society". In 1948, the association was reconstituted in its early form.
In 2010, the history of the Verein für Socialpolitik was explored in a Master's thesis at the University of Graz (Susanne Oschina: "Die Entwicklung des Vereins für Socialpolitik von seiner Gründung bis 1980,” Graz, 2010).