Issue 2 of Austausch, an online postgraduate journal in German Studies hosted by Durham University, is now online at www.austauschjournal.net
Edited by Sadiqa Riazat, a Ph.D. student at Bangor University, the theme is Germany in the Twenty-first Century.
The Call for Papers for issue 3 is also online and copied below. Please circulate amongst Ph.D. students and early career researchers with an interest in this area.
Call for Papers: Austausch Issue 3
Deadline: 1st February 2012
Transformation of the German Labour Market
The past 10 years have been a transformative decade for the German labour market. Agenda 2010 – initiated by the Red-Green government under chancellor Schröder in 2003 – represented a neoliberal policy shift and marked the beginning of a new era for the German labour market. Eight years after its introduction, the agenda seems to have been a success in that the unemployment rate has decreased steadily, year-by-year. However, unemployment is not the only indicator of change in the labour market. Significantly, 1/3 of total employment can now be characterized as ‘atypical employment’ which means that millions of workers are at high risk of enduring precarious employment. 7.7 million workers are involved in temporary agency work, fixed-term contracts, part-time jobs, low-wage jobs, so-called €400 jobs and various other forms of atypical and precarious employment. These employment relationships are ‘precarious’ because almost all of these jobs involve more insecurity and discontinuity for the worker compared to ‘normal employment’. These jobs are thus more exploitative. Many sociologists conclude from their empirical studies that employment has become less secure and this has caused changes in society, including increased poverty and inequality. Atypical employment has grown at a rate of 46,2 % between 1998 in 2008. The so called ‘precariat’ was born in 2006 when the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation identified this new class of workers in a social survey. Once identified in this manner, discussion of such workers expanded beyond the academic realm and into public sphere. Since then, low-wage workers, temporary agency workers, and other workers in atypical forms of employment who make up the new ‘precariat’ have become the subject of social and political debate.
Agenda 2010 and the political decision to implement this specific model of labour market reforms deepened and advanced pre-existing transformations in the German workplace. So-called ‘subjectivation’, flexibilisation and de-limitation of work were already major and growing trends. Sociologists described these developments using the term Arbeitskraftunternehmer, which tries to describe the new challenges for workers. nIn the name of ‘time autonomy’, flexibilisation of working time was introduced. Indeed, the Arbeitskraftunternehmer seems to be more about increasing the terrain of competition in the labour market rather than using any new ‘autonomy’ to reorganize and restructure working time in order to fit with private life. Thus, flexibilisation and subjectivation are part of the enforcement of new types of occupational rationalization and reorganization which mark the end of the taylorist model and therefore blurring of the former boundaries of work in terms of content, working time and places (de-limitation).
Workers and the working class are confronting increased challenges as a consequence of these ongoing structural changes. As workers’ representatives, trade unions reacted by initiating campaigns calling for decent and good work while they themselves are faced with a number of related problems, including eroding membership and a decrease in organizing power. At the same time, NGOs, churches and social organizations see the risks of a more unequal society through rising child poverty and the number of the elderly living in poverty. This impact on young and old is becoming an increasingly important issue. Will Germany be forced to deal with the labour/social question as it did in the 19th century?
We would like to invite contributions examining different aspects of this debate, including, but not restricted to the following topics:
Transformation of the German labour market
The German labour market: on its way to full employment?
Future of ‘normal’ employment vs. ‘atypical’ employment
New challenges for workers through ‘subjectivation’, flexibilisation and de-limitation of work
Impact on the German social market economy
The challenge of precarisation in Germany
The precariat – a new class?
Precarisation and education
Precarisation and work-life balance
Impact on German trade unions
What is the impact on equality and justice within German society?
Responses and perspectives
Minimum wage vs. basic income
What can NGOs, churches and social organizations do?
Decent Work Agenda (ILO) or the ‘Gute Arbeit’ (DGB) campaign
Please send abstracts of no more than 200 words to Stefanie A. Wahl ([log in to unmask]) by the deadline of 1st February 2012.
The German Studies Call for Papers List
Editor: Stefani Engelstein
Assistant Editor: Olaf Schmidt
Sponsored by the University of Missouri
Info available at: http://grs.missouri.edu/resources/gerlistserv.html