With what to compare?

The assumption that German society is in transformation includes two types of comparison:

  • The presence is historically compared with a stylised, exemplary version of the past (‘Modell Deutschland’, ‘Fordism’) in order to understand the dynamics of change. In East Germany, social consciousness is dominated by this historical perspective, which clearly distinguishes between ‘before’ and ‘after’ the ‘Wende’(=change).
  • The exemplary densification of the socioeconomic nexus of development makes it easier to compare the Federal Republic and other countries in the present period of change.

Not all elements of socioeconomic development are combinable at will. A country’s production and social model develops along its own specific path of development (as a nation state) which cannot simply be abandoned. Within the EU, therefore, there is a variety of such models. It remains an open question whether they really converge towards a ‘European social model’. East Germany is undergoing a twofold change: The country’s transformation (joining the Federal Republic) happened at a time when the West German model itself was undergoing change.