Changes in German Social Policy, 1990-2018

Frank Nullmeier


After the neoliberal paradigm shift in the early 2000s, German social policy returned to its regular modus which is characterized by corporatism and consensus politics between the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats. Justice and inequality are again central issues in the German public, inclusion and human rights supplement the traditional demands for more justice. However, the relevant political actors in Germany continue to deny any political discussion or even political initiatives in the direction of justice in a global or European context. With all the emphasis on normalization, it should be remembered that the continuation of the German model of a conservative welfare state was connected with some political trends, which clearly differentiated it from the welfare state as it existed in the 1980s. The lecture concentrates on five such trends: the growing role of markets in social policy, the new role of education and social investment policy in the welfare state, the discursive hegemony of poverty reduction, social assistance and minimum income schemes in the public, changes in gender relations and gender politics as well as the internationalization and Europeanization of social policy.

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