Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 261–276

Social Market Economy: origins, meanings and interpretations

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10602-008-9047-3

Cite this article as:
Goldschmidt, N. & Wohlgemuth, M. Const Polit Econ (2008) 19: 261. doi:10.1007/s10602-008-9047-3


This paper investigates various possible meanings of ‘Social Market Economy’—60 years after its political initiation in Germany. We focus on the variety of intellectual sources that influenced the formation and interpretation of the concept in Germany during the first half of the last century. Our particular attention is on Müller-Armack’s definition of a rather dualistic concept of ‘social’ versus ‘market economy’ and the subtle differences it has with an original (Freiburg School) view of ordo-liberalism that lends itself more easily to a constitutional economics perspective.


Social Market Economy Ordo-liberalism 

JEL Classification

A11 B20 H10 N44 

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universität der Bundeswehr München, Institut für Soziologie und GesellschaftspolitikNeubibergGermany
  2. 2.Walter Eucken Institut e.V.FreiburgGermany

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