Expulsion From the Paradise: How Globalization and Neoliberalism are Destroying the German Middle Class

Belinsky A.V.


Analyzing the fate of the middle class in today’s Federal Republic of Germany, the author attributes its prosperity in the 1950 s and 1970 s to three factors: 1) the welfare state that was established after World War II, 2) a favorable economic situation, and 3) the confrontation between the West and the Soviet bloc. However, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the advent of globalization launched the processes that gradually undermined the well-being of the middle class in Germany. The economic slowdown and the opening up of new markets in East Asia, Latin America and other regions prompted German companies to move production to developing countries. As a result, many Germans either lost their jobs or were forced to accept stagnation or reduction in their income. At the same time, the «new federal» lands in the East of the country had quite a hard time due to the severance of their economic relations with the former Soviet bloc and the advent of market economy. Concurrently, underway was the process of labor precarization that entailed the replacement of traditional labor relations with short-term contracts, internships, etc. After the labor market reforms initiated by the government of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (Agenda 2010), this process accelerated. It is concluded that these processes will further deplete the middle class of Germany, thereby contributing to its political radicalization.


middle class; the Federal Republic of Germany; globalization; neoliberalism, precarization of labor.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2020.02.12

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