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Varieties of Social Democracy and Cooperativism: Explaining the Historical Divergence between Housing Regimes in Nordic and German-Speaking Countries

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Kohl,  Sebastian
Soziologie des Marktes, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Kohl, S., & Sørvoll, J. (2021). Varieties of Social Democracy and Cooperativism: Explaining the Historical Divergence between Housing Regimes in Nordic and German-Speaking Countries. Social Science History, (published online May 24). doi:10.1017/ssh.2021.16.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-985D-5
Abstract
The historical-comparative study of social democracy and cooperative organization are the foster children of historical sociology. This article offers a first account of systematic ideological differences in social-democratic ideology regarding private ownership and different cooperative traditions in the housing sphere of Northern European and continental German-speaking countries. The long-run trajectory of housing welfare regimes in these two country groups has been one of divergence: Nordic countries have moved to Anglo-Saxon levels of high homeownership, high levels of mortgage indebtedness, and house price increases, whereas private tenancy, lower indebtedness, and lower price increases still characterize their German counterparts. Based on historical case studies of Germany and Norway, we argue that the divergence in these two countries can be understood by the different social-democratic and cooperative solutions to the urban housing question from the 1920s onward. Supported by a pro-ownership social democracy, Norway started to develop housing cooperatives of the owner cooperative type, whereas German social democracy was in favor of associations of the tenant cooperative type. The differential growth of these two types of cooperatives and disparities in social democratic party ideology contributed to the urban housing divergence between the two country groups that has been observed ever since. We argue, more generally, that varieties of social democracy and welfare-anticipating cooperative organizations are important in helping us understand the welfare differences between countries.