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Volksheim oder Shopping Mall? Die Reproduktion der Gesellschaft im Dreieck von Markt, Sozialstruktur und Politik

Wolfgang Streeck

No 11/5, MPIfG Working Paper from Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies

Abstract: Flexible markets require flexible societies; humans, however, need a stable social order. According to received wisdom, when capitalist development razes traditional social structures, society fights back, and welfare state policies organize new stability to replace the old. More market produces more state. The present essay deals with the fertility crisis of modern societies in its relationship with both the expansion of labor markets and the change in family structures since the 1970s. It shows that traditional societies are fragile for their own reasons, without having to be subverted by expanding markets. Markets generate not just disorder but they also promise freedom. The end of the Fordist family was experienced not just as a loss but also as liberation. The decline of the standard employment relationship was paralleled by a decline of the standard family relationship, and with rising labor market participation by women, divorce rates increased while birth rates declined. Birth rates declined most where women are still required to be married in order to have children. The physical reproduction of contemporary modern societies depends on the choices of working women living with loose family ties. The social-democratic solution is the Scandinavian folkhemmet (people's home), where the traditional tasks of families are transferred to the welfare state. This is expensive, as is government provision of flexicurity in the labor market through active labor market policies. It may also provoke deep government intervention into the private lives of citizens. The alternative is the social model of the United States where the dysfunctions of the market are treated, not by government, but by further marketization: commercialization replaces state intervention. More market produces yet more market.

Date: 2011
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