Edited by Henriette Sinding Aasen, Siri Gloppen, Anne-Mette Magnussen and Even Nilssen
Chapter 3: Reflexive regulation of employment conditions: a good way to reconcile economic efficiency with social protection?
For a long time, the German employment system has been esteemed for its well-coordinated, legitimate and protective system of employment regulation, providing its working citizens with a high level of protection and social security. In the successful German export economy, the regulation of gainful employment resulted in high standards of formal qualifications, employment conditions, social security and employee co-determination, which formed the institutional backbone of the employment system (Hall and Soskice 2001; Thelen 2003). Social citizenship, defined as ‘the state’s regulation of opportunities for citizens to exercise their autonomy and participate in social and political life’ (see Introduction to this volume), in Germany accordingly relied on the regular employment relationship (Normalarbeitsverhältnis) created by a type of regulation combining legal prescriptions with collectively negotiated rules. More precisely, the social protection of a previously attained social status achieved through education and professional training, stable integration into a predesigned employment course and a complex institutional support network for upward mobility in terms of pay, career options and social security represent the core features of the German pattern of social citizenship (Betzelt and Bothfeld 2011). In Germany, as in other Western European welfare states, regulation of the labor market and social protection has been increasingly challenged over the past two decades by gradual but fundamental changes in the employment and production systems. Especially in the domain of labor law, traditional modes of regulation, as well as lines of conflict and compromise, have undergone substantial change.
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