The Dynamics of Social Exclusion in Europe

The Dynamics of Social Exclusion in Europe

Comparing Austria, Germany, Greece, Portugal and the UK

Edited by Eleni Apospori and Jane Millar

Issues of poverty and social exclusion are high on the European policy agenda. The Dynamics of Social Exclusion in Europe reports findings from a study funded by the European Commission, using data from the European Community Household Panel, with a multi-dimensional approach to international comparisons of poverty and social exclusion. The research, building upon that of the preceding book – Poverty and Social Exclusion in Europe – compares four groups who are anticipated to be at particular risk of poverty and social exclusion; young adults, lone parents, the sick or disabled, and those retired from employment.

Chapter 4: The dynamics of social exclusion in Germany: solving the east–west dilemma?

Wolfgang Voges and Olaf Ju_rgens

Subjects: social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, sociology and sociological theory


4. The dynamics of social exclusion in Germany: solving the east–west dilemma? Wolfgang Voges and Olaf Jürgens Traditionally, poverty research has been concerned with the economic and social causes of poverty. Labour market variables such as low pay, unemployment and under-employment, as well as familial conditions, such as single parenthood or divorce, are usually investigated as conditions that determine poverty. ‘Individual’ causes of poverty mainly refer to the lack of poor people’s capabilities regarding participation in the labour market or regarding the setting up and successful management of family or household constellations. From this point of view, public policies assume the function of combating poverty, either in a structural way by intervening in the labour market and in family relations to moderate processes of exclusion and marginalization, or by direct measures designed to improve the individual capabilities and inclinations of poor people to become self-sufficient. However, if the structure of society has changed – as in the former socialist countries including the former East Germany – the welfare state will not only combat or alleviate poverty arising from socioeconomic factors but may also produce poverty itself as an effect of the transition process. This type of poverty can be perceived as being caused by politically institutional mechanisms and these causes are, of course, not quite the same as the socioeconomic ones. Poverty brought about by socioeconomic factors can be seen as a kind of individual poverty, whereas poverty induced by the welfare state and its reconstruction can be...

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