A European Perspective
Edited by Dominique Anxo, Gerhard Bosch and Jill Rubery
Chapter 4: From the Breadwinner Model to ‘Bricolage’: Germany in Search of a New Life Course Model
4. From the breadwinner model to ‘bricolage’: Germany in search of a new life course model 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...
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