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Analysing social policy concepts and languageComparative and Transnational Perspectives$
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Daniel Béland and Klaus Petersen

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781447306443

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447306443.001.0001

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date: 18 August 2017

Germany

Germany

constructing the ‘win-win’ society

Chapter:
(p.177) NINE Germany
Source:
Analysing social policy concepts and language
Author(s):

Stephan Lessenich

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447306443.003.0010

Germany is commonly known as the precursor of institutionalized state interventionism with regard to the social question. The peculiar history of paternalistic-authoritarian social policy “from above,” absorbing and expropriating earlier forms of municipal welfare and cooperative self-help, lies behind the specific combination of statist and communalist semantics to be found in German social policy language .and especially the concept of Sozialstaat discussed in this chapter. Based on the double experience of war corporatism in the first part of the twentieth century, and driven by a booming economy and the emergence of fordist class compromise, the post-war social policy discourse was injected with a rhetoric of partnership, the idea of “the social” as a common good being warranted by the state and (its) social partners marking social policy language until German reunification. Since the late 1990s, however, a semantic shift has taken place under the auspices of activation: liberal semantics of personal responsibility, self-reliance, and a “culture of poverty” promoted by state welfare have come to the fore, reflecting and reinforcing a paradigmatic change in the logic of social policy in Germany.

Keywords:   Germany, social policy, Sozialstaat, state interventionism, municipal welfare, social policy language

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