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Franz-Xaver Kaufmann

Today, "social policy" is an expression used across the globe to denote a broad range of issues, such as old age security, health, housing and so on. But historically, "social policy" had a distinct European origin and a distinct meaning. I maintain that "social policy" and the "welfare state" are more than a list of social services, and also have strong socio-cultural underpinnings that account for the diversity of social policy. The idea of "social policy" emerged in mid-nineteenth-century Germany against the backdrop of secularization and functional differentiation of modern society. I then pinpoint the twentieth-century move from "social policy" to the broader cultural idea of a universalistic "welfare state." The idea emerged internationally as early as the 1940s, even before the post-WWII rise of national welfare states, which, as I argue, differ according to national notions of "state" and "society." To this end, I compare the UK, Sweden, Germany, France, and two non-welfare states, the United States and the Soviet Union.

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Confined Live(r)s

Self-Infliction and Arbitrary Survival in the German Transplant System

Julia Rehsmann

This article traces the trope of self-infliction for the moral economy of liver transplantation. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Germany, I discuss the trope of self-infliction to explore intimate uncertainties that people with an alcoholic liver disease face when looking for medical care. I claim that the moralising trope of self-infliction plays a significant role in considerations about who is deserving of a liver transplant and a ‘second chance’. As access to transplantation becomes a life-and-death matter when livers fail, I see the trope of self-infliction as a tool for triaging lives for liver transplantation. Moreover, I claim that the trope of self-infliction, with its emphasis on self-responsibility, has a gendered dimension that puts women with an alcoholic liver disease under particular moral scrutiny. Furthermore, I demonstrate how this moralising trope shapes regulatory practices, like the ‘six-month abstinence rule’, which consequently confine livers and thus, eventually, confine lives.

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Coming Together in the So-Called Refugee Crisis

A Collaboration Among Refugee Newcomers, Migrants, Activists and Anthropologists in Berlin

Nasima Selim, Mustafa Abdalla, Lilas Alloulou, Mohamed Alaedden Halli, Seth M. Holmes, Maria Ibiß, Gabi Jaschke, and Johanna Gonçalves Martín

In 2015, Germany entered what would later become known as the ‘refugee crisis’. The Willkommenskultur (welcoming culture) trope gained political prominence and met with significant challenges. In this article, we focus on a series of encounters in Berlin, bringing together refugee newcomers, migrants, activists and anthropologists. As we thought and wrote together about shared experiences, we discovered the limitations of the normative assumptions of refugee work. One aim of this article is to destabilise terms such as refugee, refugee work, success and failure with our engagements in the aftermath of the ‘crisis’. Refugee work is not exclusively humanitarian aid directed towards the alleviation of suffering but includes being and doing together. Through productive failures and emergent lessons, the collaboration enhanced our understandings of social categories and the role of anthropology.

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Sticking to Her Guns or Going with the Flow

Assessing Rigidity and Flexibility in Angela Merkel’s Political Decision Making

Christian Schnee

This paper investigates levels of rigidity and flexibility in Angela Merkel’s decision making during her first three governments from 2005 to 2017. The study is a contribution to understanding German politics in the era of Merkel who has regularly been criticized for allegedly lacking a transformative agenda and ideological consistency. Methodologically this study draws on Jonathan Keller’s framework that differentiates between internally and externally validated leaders, with the latter seeking to appease and curry favor with stakeholders and the former committed to their personal believes. The study assesses Merkel’s decisions on fiscal and economic policies, zooms in on her u-turn on nuclear energy, touches upon her dithering during the Euro crisis and discusses at some length her protracted coming to terms with the refugee crisis. Findings suggest her flexibility to be predominantly a reflection of political expediencies and intended to preserve her party’s political compatibility with potentially supportive stakeholders. Her approach thus is in line with the agenda to manage coalition governments successfully, moderate and conciliate divergent interests and thus secure their position in power.

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Jens Reich

The invitation to describe 'My Germany' is an invitation to describe my life. It is a chance to reflect on the country in which I have lied since my birth. However, it seems that the conspicuous presence of a single possessive pronoun brings my reflection to a halt even before it has begun. For it is this country in which I felt like a bird in a cage for more than half of my adult life. And it is this country that I always dreamed of leaving forever. Now, I think, as I grow older the desire to escape or fly away has dissolved into a feeling of resignation and of mild satisfaction, mixed with a sense of hesitating to my German-ness and I feel that I can reflect on it with a calm mood.

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The Aesthetics and Publics of Testimony

Participation and Agency in Architectural Memorializations of the 1993 Solingen Arson Attack

Eray Çaylı

attack of 29 May 1993 was part of a series of violent racist attacks that shook Germany in the late 1980s and early 1990s, at a time when reunification reinvigorated the patriotism and nationalism that had been suppressed after World War II and the

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“Between Us and the French There Are No Profound Differences”

Colonialism and the Possibilities of a Franco-German Rapprochement before 1914

Jens-Uwe Guettel

This article argues against the importance of colonial tensions for the worsening of Franco-German relations between the two Moroccan Crises in 1905 and 1911. Traditionally, historians have interpreted the clashes of French and German interests over Morocco in the first two decades of the twentieth century as putting France and Germany on the path to armed conflict in 1914. This article shows, however, that the First Moroccan Crisis engendered intense efforts by both German and French pro-colonialists to come to a peaceful understanding with each other. The article thus demonstrates that in the early years of the twentieth century, French and German colonialists indeed thought in transnational terms; that is, their understanding of their own and their counterpart's interests was based on the recognition of mutually shared values and racial features that transcended both countries' European borders.

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From Rhetoric to Practice

A critique of immigration policy in Germany through the lens of Turkish-Muslim women's experiences of migration

Sherran Clarence

The largest group of migrants in Germany is the Turkish people, many of whom have low skills levels, are Muslim, and are slow to integrate themselves into their host communities. German immigration policy has been significantly revised since the early 1990s, and a new Immigration Act came into force in 2005, containing more inclusive stances on citizenship and integration of migrants. There is a strong rhetoric of acceptance and open doors, within certain parameters, but the gap between the rhetoric and practice is still wide enough to allow many migrants, particularly women, to fall through it. Turkish-Muslim women bear the brunt of the difficulties faced once they have arrived in Germany, and many of them are subject to domestic abuse, joblessness and poverty because of their invisibility to the German state, which is the case largely because German immigration policy does not fully realise a role and place for women migrants. The policy also does not sufficiently account for ethnic and cultural identification, or limitations faced by migrants in that while it speaks to integration, it does not fully enable this process to take place effectively. Even though it has made many advances in recent years towards a more open and inclusive immigration policy, Germany is still a 'reluctant' country of immigration, and this reluctance stops it from making any real strides towards integrating migrants fully into German society at large. The German government needs to take a much firmer stance on the roles of migrant women in its society, and the nature of the ethnic and religious identities of Muslim immigrants, in order to both create and implement immigration policy that truly allows immigrants to become full and contributing members to German social and economic life, and to bring it in line with the European Union's common directives on immigration.

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Cornelia Wilhelm

The modern rabbinate emerged in German-speaking Central Europe during the emancipation period early in the nineteenth century and became a symbol for the societal integration of German Jewry into society. The modern rabbi was to lead and define

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Welfare Systems in Europe and the United States

Conservative Germany Converging toward the Liberal US Model?

Martin Seeleib-Kaiser

This article demonstrates how the Conservative system of social protection in Germany has been converging toward the Liberal American model during the past two decades, focusing on social protection for the unemployed and pensioners. In addition to public/statutory provisions, occupational welfare is also covered. Despite an overall process of convergence, we continue to witness stark dissimilarities in the arrangements for social protection outsiders: whereas Germany continues to constitutionally guarantee a legal entitlement to minimum social protection for all citizens, such a guarantee does not exist in the United States. The lack of such legal entitlement for poor people of working age, combined with the criminalization of the "dangerous class," is a key differentiating characteristic of the US model at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The findings confirm but also qualify Franz-Xaver Kaufmann's analysis of the United States as "capitalism," which lacks collective welfare responsibility for all citizens, as compared to Germany's "welfare state."