In today’s overpowering neoliberal dogma, the written media often renders strong economic developments and generous welfare state policies as incompatible. At a European level, the recent economic and financial crisis has worryingly reinforced this trend, exemplified by strategic cuts in higher education funding in the majority of EU member states. This article takes the present European crisis as its point of departure, and by drawing on the example of post-war higher education expansion in Finland and West Germany, it argues that crisis can provide beneficial insights into the causes, capacities, forms, and mechanisms of change in current capitalist economies under increased austerity. This analysis thereby condemns the alleged incompatibility of economic growth and egalitarianism, and concludes by suggesting – as was also implied by the Finnish and West German press of the 1960s – that investment in human capital via education needs to be maintained and increased to facilitate the EU member states out of the economic crisis.
Welfare state, higher education, media analysis, Finland, West Germany
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