The German model of labour market segmentation – tendencies of change

In the first two decades after the Second World War a specific labour market structure emerged in the Federal Republic of Germany as integral part of “Rhenish Capitalism”. Basic elements were the hegemony of internal labour markets, a strong protection of wage labour against market forces and a far reaching “vocationalism” in the employment system. In the last two decades there is an increasing evidence of change: a growth of external and secondary markets, de-regulation and re-commodification, and a downgrade of the socio-economic space for vocational skills. East Germany plays the role of a testing field and forerunner. We interpret these tendencies as modifications of the German model rather than as fundamental change and expect path dependency for the future. The analyses demonstrate that segmentation concepts are still useful heuristic instruments and that a better understanding of external labour markets is crucial for research and policy development.

Lutz.B, Köhler.C, Grünert.H, Struck.O, Socio-Économie du Travail n°28 (Économies et Sociétés, tome XLI), juin 2007, p.1057-1088.

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