How neoliberalism is causing a social crisis in Germany
Upward social mobility represented a core promise of life under the “old” West German welfare state, in which millions of skilled workers upgraded their Volkswagens to Audis, bought their first homes, and sent their children to university. Not so in today’s Federal Republic, where the gears of the so-called “elevator society” have long since ground to a halt. In the absence of the social mobility of yesterday, widespread social exhaustion and anxiety have emerged across mainstream society. Oliver Nachtwey analyses the reasons for this social rupture in postwar German society and investigates the conflict potential emerging as a result. He concludes that although the country has managed to muddle through thus far, simmering tensions beneath the surface nevertheless threaten to undermine the German system’s stability in the years to come.
Recipient of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation 2016 Hans-Matthöfer-Preis for Economic Writing.
Oliver Nachtwey is Associate Professor of Social Structure Analysis at the University of Basel, and a fellow at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt. His research interests include labour and industrial sociology, political sociology, the comparative study of capitalism, and social movements.