Karl Renner


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Along with Hilferding he was a leading figure in Austro-Marxism. He represented the Socialists in the Austrian parliament and became Chancellor and Minister of Finance in 1918–20 and was President of the Assembly in 1930–3. In 1945 he again became Chancellor (President) of the new Austrian Republic. He published works on the political conflicts of nation-states, but became best known for The Institutions of Private Law and their Social Function (1904). This argued that legal institutions operate in contexts of material relations that give them a distinct social function that may not correspond in a one-to-one way with their formal codification. Thus, large corporations may be based around private property but in fact sustain concentrated control by finance capitalists. His later work, published posthumously, set out the idea of a growth in size and significance of a managerial and professional ‘service class’, an idea that has been taken up by such writers as John Goldthorpe.

Subjects: Literature — Sociology.

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