Presentation of results by the research association on November 13th, 2009

Panel 2: Does ‘social’ mean creating jobs? Changing patterns of participation and new insecurities

Even after the transformation social participation is mainly realised by labour force participation. The changes taking place are not sufficiently covered by the observation of increasing systemic unemployment or the rise in atypical employment. Only a longitudinal section examination shows the decreasing social significance of normal employment (existence-securing wages, permanent full-time employment) in the ‘Fordist’ style.

On the level of individual curriculae vitae, the classic patterns of Fordist labour integration are becoming less common. Full-time employment once typical for males – usually without interruptions by unemployment or domestic work – is decreasing. However, on a lower level, it remains the dominant pattern amongst men in West and East Germany. The complementary pattern of female family work – with only short periods of employment, rarely in the shape of full-time employment – is quickly losing its importance amongst West German women, whereas for East German women it has never been typical in the first place. However, for West as well as for East German women the supplement income model – relatively continuous part-time work, interrupted by short phases of domestic work – is increasing so that the occupational trajectories of East and West German women are converging.

Looking beyond the changes of classic Fordist patterns one can observe – especially in East Germany – a marked increase in precarious working careers – with little continuity of employment, large chunks of time without employment and unemployment respectively. These findings are confirmed by a look at the employment system’s macro level where ‘zones of participation’ developed varying from secure full-time employment up to permanent exclusion from any employment whatsoever.

Lecture (German)
Sabine Fromm: Sozial ist, was Arbeit schafft? PDF