Comparing Austria, Germany, Greece, Portugal and the UK
Edited by Eleni Apospori and Jane Millar
Chapter 4: The dynamics of social exclusion in Germany: solving the east–west dilemma?
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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