Introduction: Moralizing Capitalism: Agents, Discourses and Practices of Capitalism and Anti-capitalism in the Modern Age

  • Stefan BergerEmail author
  • Alexandra Przyrembel
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements book series (PSHSM)


This chapter introduces the concept and idea of moralizing capitalism. Furthermore, it contextualizes questions of morality within the larger historiography on capitalism and provides some of the red lines that connect the chapters in this volume. It argues that the critique of capitalism in the nineteenth and twentieth century is structured by a set of moral values which is constantly (re)-negotiated by social movements, entrepreneurs and above all the state. A morally legitimized or framed critique of capitalism moves between two poles: on the one hand, criticism of capitalism is ignited by the success of capitalism, even though it does not ‘harm’ capitalism as an economic system. On the other hand, it is ignited by experiences of crisis. It is no coincidence that capitalism and its history has been examined again with new ferocity since the global financial and economic crisis of 2007.

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Social MovementsRuhr University BochumBochumGermany
  2. 2.Modern European HistoryUniversity of HagenHagenGermany

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