The Welfare State and Life Transitions

The Welfare State and Life Transitions

A European Perspective

Edited by Dominique Anxo, Gerhard Bosch and Jill Rubery

This timely book reveals that new life courses are found to require more, and not less welfare support, but only Sweden has developed an active life course approach and only three more could be considered supportive, in at least some life stages. For the remainder, policies were at best limited or, in Italy’s case, passive. The contributors reveal that the neglect of changing needs is leading to greater reliance on the family and the labour market, just as these support structures are becoming more unpredictable and more unequal. They argue that alongside these new class inequalities, new forms of inter-generational inequality are also emerging, particularly in pension provision.

Chapter 4: From the Breadwinner Model to ‘Bricolage’: Germany in Search of a New Life Course Model

Gerhard Bosch and Andreas Jansen

Subjects: economics and finance, welfare economics, politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, welfare states


Gerhard Bosch and Andreas Jansen INTRODUCTION For many Germans in the years after the Second World War, instability and mobility were the dominant characteristics of their lives. Twelve million refugees had to be absorbed. At the same time, many agricultural workers and tradesmen were flooding into the rapidly expanding large-scale industrial sector. Only after these movements had played out did employment and individual careers stabilise in a short-lived ‘dream of everlasting prosperity’ (Lutz 1984) and the institutions of the German variant of ‘Rhenish capitalism’ (Albert 1992) were established in West Germany. The chief characteristic of this variant of capitalism was its combination of a strong economic dynamic, a high level of social security and low inter-household inequality. The high level of value creation was based on the German manufacturing industry’s specialisation in high-quality products, the socalled diversified quality production, which was supported by relations of trust between capital and labour and the broadly based vocational training that workers received. Generalising institutions such as the industry-wide collective agreements and the wide-ranging protection afforded by labour law and social insurance and social protection programmes jointly administered by labour and capital ensured that productivity gains benefited society as a whole. Individual life courses, particularly those of German men, were traced out by this production model. The life courses of married women in West Germany conformed to the housewife model. The high female participation rates during the war and the economic privations of the post-war years were seen as an undesirable deviation from the...

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