Liberating the Consumer: Ludwig Erhard and the Making of the Federal Republic

  • Niklas Olsen
Part of the Consumption and Public Life book series (CUCO)


This chapter explores the neoliberal makings of the sovereign consumer in Germany from the 1920s to the 1960s, focusing especially on how politicians and policy advisors mobilized the figure in order to construct the economic order that underpinned the Federal Republic of Germany after 1945. The chapter illustrates how the proponents of this order, which became known as social market economy, framed the sovereign consumer as a person exercising free choice in the market and as the symbol of the democratic citizen responsible for rebuilding the German economy and society. Moreover, tracing the birth of the sovereign consumer to undertakings in German marketing research and the discipline of economics in the interwar period, it illustrates how German neoliberals assigned the figure a plurality of meanings and mobilized it in a variety of projects.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Niklas Olsen
    • 1
  1. 1.SAXO-InstituteUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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