PD Dr. Korinna Schönhärl

CV

  • 2018/19 Invited professor at University Lyon 2, France
  • Since March 2018 project leader in the Heisenberg-Program at Goethe-University Frankfurt: "International History of Tax Morale"
  • Nov. 2016 Postdoctoral lecture qualification at University Duisburg-Essen. Manuskript: "Financers Entering New Grounds: European Banks and Greece in the 19th Century"
  • Oct. 2016 until Sep. 2017 research fellow at the Historical College, Munich
  • April 2009 to February 2018 Assistant Professor at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Historical Institute, Chair of Economic and Social History, Prof. Dr. Ute Schneider
  • Thesis: "Knowledge and Visions. Theory and Politics of the Economists in the Stefan George Circle." Recipient of the Friedrich Sperl Award of Goethe University Frankfurt
  • 2005-2008: Research assistant at Goethe University Frankfurt in the collaborative research centre "Culture of Knowledge and Social Change"
  • 2003-2005: Grammar school teacher on probation: Second State Examination
  • Summer 2003: Graduation as teacher for secondary school: First State Examination
  • 1999-2000: Erasmus-Studies at Aristotle’s University Thessalonica, Greece
  • 1997-2003: Studies of History, German Language and German Literature at Regensburg University

Research Interests

  • Social, Cultural and Economic History of the 19th and 20th Century
  • History of Economic Thought
  • Banking History/Financial History
  • Historical Methodology
  • History of Tax Morale

Research projects

International cultural history of tax morale

Scandals like the ones about Apple´s tax avoidance in Ireland, about the “Paradise” or the “Panama” papers regularly evoke public indignation. Why exactly do those who can avoid doing so not pay their taxes honestly?

Is it really the case that they do not? Real tax payment behaviour is difficult to measure. Since the beginning of the 20th century scientists have developed methodologies to measure tax evasion. Even today the results are far from being satisfactory: there is always a high dark figure, and the results are seldom comparable. All that is clear is that tax payers have avoided and evaded taxes since the beginning of measurements, and that this has not changed.

Avoiding these methodological difficulties, empirical social sciences follow a different approach: they examine taxpayers´ attitudes towards their tax duties, which can be measured in public surveys: “Can it be justified to cheat on taxes if you have a chance?” (World Values Survey). Answers differ considerably, depending on age, gender, education, the weight of tax burdens experienced, perceptions of tax justice and many other factors. However, one aspect is not taken into consideration: do all interviewees in different regions worldwide understand the question in the same manner? Results differ strongly between countries, suggesting that this is not the case and that norms and values concerning tax payment behaviour are culturally determined and historically developed.

Analysing historical changes in tax morale is therefore a fruitful field of historical research: How did norms and values concerning the payment of taxes evolve and how did they change over time? The “Sociology of Morality”, engaged in the examination of the evolution and change of moral systems (e.g. Gabriel Abend: The Moral Background) provides methodological inspiration. On this basis, approaches from conceptual history and discourse analysis can be combined. The project “International cultural history of tax morale” thus examines the evolution of norms and values concerning the payment of taxes between the 1940s and 1980s in three different types of tax systems: the West German, the Spanish and the US American.

DFG-Network: Doing Debt. Praxeology of sovereign debt in the long 20th century (Julia Rischbieter and Stefanie Middendorf)

The planned network will study practices of sovereign debt in historical perspective. It will focus on concrete procedures, situational decisions, and actor relations within politics of debt throughout the long twentieth century, and will put special emphasis on their significance for the negotiation of shifting boundaries between "the state" and "the market." By doing so, it intends to avoid the deterministic view taken in many academic debates so far and to add specific insight into historical connections between financial practices, social knowledge, and economic effects. The network draws on the recently broad praxeological discussion in cultural studies and the social sciences, relating to its sensitivity for informal behaviour, for the materiality of practices, and for the intrinsic logics of actor knowledge. The respective meanings of sovereign debt in the past, and the effects of public debt management since the late 19th century will be situated within moments of decision-making - rather than understanding them as calculable effects of theoretical models or conceptual orders.The interdisciplinary exchange between history, economics and social sciences thus shall enable a more sophisticated study of debt practices that takes their complexity and inconsistency into account. It aims at understanding and explaining the processual character and historical change of everyday (political) handling of public debt. 

DFG-Network: Economy and Morals. Normativity and Economic Practices in a long 20th century: Knowledge, Objects, Agency (Benjamin Möckel, Oxford)

Economy and morality are often perceived as separate spheres or antipodes. The network wants to put into question this opposition. We propose to analyze the concept of morality from a historical perspective, and to apply it to the analysis of economic systems, discourses and practices. Our topics of research range from critiques of capitalism and alternative modes of consumption to praises of the free market. They include theoretical discourses as well as everyday interactions and embodied practices. In its conceptual approach, the network focuses on three central categories: "knowledge", "objects" and "agency". It aims at compiling an anthology of historical sources which reflect the multiple links between morality and economy in the long 20th century, adopting a transnational and European perspective. The anthology will analyze the changing characters and functions of economic morals up until today. Our central working hypothesis is that moral arguments are progressively interpreted within a global context. They tend to transcend local, regional and national frameworks, or may even refer to future generations. At the same time, this transposition of moral arguments into a transnational and global context brings about new moral conflicts, for example when debates about the welfare state or social inequality gain new currency on a national level and are explicitly framed in an anti-global rhetoric. We contend that these developments need to be investigated in a long-term historical perspective. The participants of the network will therefore analyze the contentious spatial, social and temporal extensions of economic morals from the late 19th century into the present.

Book publications

Financiers' desired spaces. European banks and Greece in the 19th century (Habilitation)

International banking networks contributed importantly to the financing of industrialization in the 19th century. But how were decisions for certain projects taken within the banks? The book researches the decision taking process in banks with Greece as a case study. Her war of independence from the Ottoman Empire (1821-1830) was the subject of highly emotional discussion in most European countries. Donations, loans, but also investment from all over Europe started to arrive in Greece. When the country was finally able to become an independent nation state in 1830, it was henceforward seen as an emerging but high risky investment market by bankers from Great Britain, France, Switzerland and Germany. The investigation sheds light on the complexity of these bankers' investment decisions between 1821 and 1911: Why did they decide to transfer their funds to the new Hellenic nation state? Which financial, ideological, familial and political aspects worked together to motivate them to invest in Greece? The project applies a combination of methods from economic, political and cultural history, questioning traditional rational choice approaches. Attention is focused on the risk perception, the risk management techniques and the constitution of confidence behind the involvement of International banking networks contributed importantly to the financing of industrialization in the 19th century. But how were decisions for certain projects taken within the banks? The book researches the decision taking process in banks with Greece as a case study. Her war of independence from the Ottoman Empire (1821-1830) was the subject of highly emotional discussion in most European countries. Donations, loans, but also investment from all over Europe started to arrive in Greece. When the country was finally able to become an independent nation state in 1830, it was henceforward seen as an emerging but high risky investment market by bankers from Great Britain, France, Switzerland and Germany. The investigation sheds light on the complexity of these bankers' investment decisions between 1821 and 1911: Why did they decide to transfer their funds to the new Hellenic nation state? Which financial, ideological, familial and political aspects worked together to motivate them to invest in Greece? The project applies a combination of methods from economic, political and cultural history, questioning traditional rational choice approaches. Attention is focused on the risk perception, the risk management techniques and the constitution of confidence behind the involvement of European bankers and investors in Greece.

The project was funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundationand finished during a scholarship at the Historical College in Munich. The book is out of press in October 2017.

For more information see the publisher Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Decision Making, Risk Management and Confidence in Banks from Early Modernity until the 19th Century (Conference volume in English)

How do bankers make their decisions? How do they perceive risks and what does their risk managemnt look like? How is confidence built up and how does it work in everyday banking praxis? The volume, originating from a workshop at the KWI Essen in February 2015, offers methodological approaches for historical research (from System Theory to Behavioral Finance, from New Institutional Economics to Praxeology, from Convention Theory to Network Analysis). The various methodological approaches are put to the test in case studies based on archive material from five hundred years of banking (from Early Modern European banking networks until International Computerization, with a focus on 19th century banking.) The investment decisions of bankers and their risk management techniques over the course of time are two special interests of the book, besides the decisions connected with the recruitment of partners and personnel in banks. The aim is to connect banking history more closely to political and cultural history.

See also Palgrave MacMillan´s Homepage.

Ruhr Area and Istanbul: The economies of urban diversity (Conference Volume in English, together with Monika Salzbrunn and Darja Reuschke)

The Economics of Urban Diversity explores ethnic and religious minorities in urban economies. In this exciting work, the contributors develop an integrative approach to urban diversity and economy by employing concepts from different studies and linking historical and contemporary analyses of economic, societal, demographic, and cultural development. Contributors from a variety of disciplines—geography, economics, history, sociology, anthropology, and planning—make for a transdisciplinary analysis of past and present migration-related economic and social issues, which helps to better understand the situation of ethnic and religious minorities in metropolitan areas today.

The conference volume was published in 2013.

See also Palgrave MacMillan´s Homepage.