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Unit information: German Economic Policy Narratives in 2020/21

Unit name German Economic Policy Narratives
Unit code GERM30076
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Debbie Pinfold
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of German
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit examines the narratives at work in German economic policy debates. The analytical focus is on public-facing statements made by both politicians and business leaders concerning the fundamentals of Germany’s economy. In terms of genre, they range from white papers to press conferences and from tweets to billboard motifs. The unit aims:

  • to reveal the subliminal presence of narratives about the importance of sound finances, diversified labour markets and skills, the digital economy, a proactive mindset, reliable services, cooperative institutions and other issues, depending on recent developments;
  • to explore the specific dynamics through which narratives are revisited and applied to changing circumstances in a process which combines economic, political, cultural and linguistic activity;
  • to enable students to recognise the significance of these narratives to their own ability to act as citizens, entrepreneurs and consumers.

Intended learning outcomes

Successful students will demonstrate that they are able to:

1) examine the structure and substance of texts pertaining to economic policy in a wide range of genres and conveyed through a variety of channels;

2) analyse the discursive contexts in which these texts have been produced and disseminated;

3) evaluate the merits of qualitative discourse analysis as appropriate to Level 6;

4) make confident and critical use of secondary literature to support and develop their own written interpretations of expansive discursive formations as appropriate to Level 6.

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous sessions and asynchronous activities, including seminars, lectures and collaborative as well as self-directed learnign opportunities supported by tutor consultation.

Assessment Details

1 x 15-minute individual recorded presentation on the presence of economic policy narratives in a recent public debate. 25%. ILO 1 and 2.

1 x 3,000-word essay on the persistence of narratives in a business and policy context supposedly market by rapid change. 75%. ILO 1 to 4.

Reading and References

Emery Roe, Narrative policy analysis: Theory and practice, Durham: Duke UP, 1994.

Stefan Grüner and Sabine Mecking (eds.), Wirtschaftsräume und Lebenschancen: Wahrnehmung und Steuerung von sozialökonomischem Wandel in Deutschland 1945-2000, Berlin: de Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2017.

David B. Audretsch and Erik E. Lehmann, The seven secrets of Germany: Economic resilience in an era of global turbulence, New York: Oxford UP, 2016.

Marcel Boldorf, Deutsche Wirtschaft und Politik: Vom Kaiserreich bis ins 21. Jahrhundert, Darmstadt: WBG, 2017.

Lisa Herzog and Axel Honneth (eds.), Der Wert des Marktes: Ein ökonomisch-philosophischer Diskurs vom 18. Jahrhundert bis zur Gegenwart, Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2014.