Childhood, Class and Kin in the Roman World

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All further reflection on the German nation had to come to grips with this issue in one way or another. There have been many different attempts to explain Nazism and its crimes. Some see Adolf Hitler and his cronies as villains who misled the German people. Others blame Nazism on a flaw in the German national character.

Still others see the beginning of Germany's problems in the rejection of the rational and universal principles of the Enlightenment and the adoption of romantic irrationalism. Marxist scholars see Nazism as a form of fascism, which they describe as the form that capitalism takes under certain historical conditions. Finally, some cite the failure of the bourgeois revolution in the nineteenth century and the lingering power of feudal elites as the main cause.

Since the fall of the GDR, West German traditions of coming to terms with the past have been extended to the period of socialist rule in East Germany. Some Germans emphasize the similarities between the two forms of dictatorship, National Socialist and communist, while others, especially many East Germans, view the Third Reich and the GDR as being essentially dissimilar. In recent years, German nationalism has been reexamined in accordance with views of the nation as an "imagined community" which is based on "invented traditions. The most significant contributions to the imagination and the invention of the German nation in this era took place in the context of 1 a set of typical voluntary associations, which supposedly harkened back to old local, regional, or national traditions; 2 the series of monuments erected by state governments, by towns and cities, and by citizens' groups throughout Germany; and 3 the various representations of history, some of which have been alluded to above.

In addition, there is a growing body of literature that examines understandings of the nation and the politics of nationhood in the eighteenth century. There is much disagreement on the political implications of the critical history of nationalism in Germany. Some scholars seem to want to exorcize the deviant aspects of modern German nationalism, while retaining those aspects, with which, in their view, German citizens should identify. Others see nationalism as an especially dangerous stage in a developmental process, which Germans, in their journey toward a postnational society, should leave behind.

Ethnic Relations. The framers of the Grundgesetz Basic Law or Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany adopted older laws that define citizenship according to the principle of jus sanguinis, that is birth to German parents literally, law of blood. For this reason, many people born outside of Germany are considered to be German, while many people born in Germany are not. Since the s, the country has admitted millions of migrant workers, who have, in fact, played an indispensable role in the economy.

Although migrant workers from Turkey, Yugoslavia, Italy, Greece, Spain, and Portugal were called Gastarbeiter literally, guest workers , many stayed in Germany and established families. They form communities, which are to varying degrees assimilated to German lifestyles. Indeed, many of the children and grandchildren of immigrant laborers regard themselves not as Turkish, Greek, or Portuguese, but as German.

Beginning in the year , new laws granted restricted rights of dual citizenship to children of foreign descent who are born in Germany. This new legislation has been accompanied by intensified discussion about Germany's status as a land of immigration. All major political parties now agree that Germany is and should be a land of immigration, but they differ on many aspects of immigration policy. The earliest urban centers in what is now Germany were established by the Romans on or near the Rhine, often on the sites of pre-Roman settlements.

Examples include Mainz, Trier, and Cologne. In the Middle Ages, older and newly founded towns became centers for commerce and for the manual trades, which were organized in guilds. Towns developed distinctive forms of social organization and culture, which set them off from the agrarian world of peasants and nobles. Some, called "free imperial cities," enjoyed the protection of the emperor and concomitant political and economic privileges. Others were directly subordinate to territorial lords, but still tried to gain or maintain a degree of autonomy.

There was often a sharp distinction between commercial cities, such as Leipzig, and court cities, such as Dresden. Up until the nineteenth century, however, the urban populations were very modest in size. In , only Berlin and Hamburg had more than , inhabitants. In the course of the nineteenth century, Germany experienced the forms of internal migration and urbanization that are typical of the transition from an agrarian to an industrial society.

Industrial centers such as Leipzig, Berlin, and the Ruhr Valley grew dramatically in the second half of the century. Essen, in the Ruhr Valley, had 10, inhabitants in and , in The inadequate living conditions in the burgeoning cities were a major impetus for the workers' movement, which led to the formation of unions and working-class parties, most notably the Social Democratic and Communist parties.

Childhood, Class and Kin in the Roman World

German cities typically bear witness to all eras in the architectural history of Europe. The sequence of Romanic, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles is especially evident in churches, many of which have been renovated repeatedly over the centuries. Much of the urban architecture in Germany bears witness to the tastes of the nineteenth century, including the classicism of the first half of the century and the historicism including neo-Gothic and neo-Renaissance of the second half of the century.

Most cities dispensed of their medieval walls in the nineteenth century, but they retained their central town square, which is typically flanked by the town hall and sometimes the town church as well. In German cities today, some of the old town halls are still administrative centers, but others have become historical museums. The town square is, however, still used for festivals, weekly farmers' markets, and other special events. German cities experienced an unprecedented degree of destruction in the late years of World War II. In the first decades of the postwar era, they were often rebuilt in a modern style that differed sharply from the earlier appearance of the cities.

Since the s, cultural preservation has become a higher priority. This emphasis on the preservation of historic aspects of the city corresponds to an increased popular interest in all things historical and to the importance of the international tourist trade. The politics of cultural preservation is characterized by debates over the way in which the past should be represented in urban places. In Berlin, for example, many buildings have been linked to different regimes of the past, including Brandenburg-Prussia, the German Empire, and the Third Reich.

The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, which was largely destroyed in the last war, has been left in ruins. In Dresden, the federal state of Saxony, the city of Dresden, and various citizens organizations have elected to rebuild the famous Frauenkirche Church of Our Lady , which was destroyed in the bombing of February Thus, they have chosen to emphasize the baroque tradition of "Florence on the Elbe," as Dresden was called.

At the same time, Dresden—like many other towns and cities of former East Germany—has elected to remove many, though not all, of the monuments of the German Democratic Republic. People socializing at a festival in Allgau. German beer, a favorite beverage, must be made only of water, hops, and malt. Food in Daily Life. Eating habits in Germany vary by social class and milieu, but it is possible to generalize about the behavior of the inclusive middle class, which has emerged in the prosperous postwar era.

Most Germans acquire food from both supermarkets and specialty shops, such as bakeries and butcher shops. Bread is the main food at both breakfast and supper. The warm meal of the day is still often eaten at noon, though modern work routines seem to encourage assimilation to American patterns.

Pork is the most commonly consumed meat, though various sorts of wurst, or sausage, are often eaten in lieu of meat. Cabbage, beets, and turnips are indigenous vegetables, which are, however, often supplemented with more exotic fare. Since its introduction in the seventeenth century, the potato has won a firm place in German cuisine.

Favorite alcoholic beverages are beer, brandy, and schnapps. German beers, including varieties such as Pilsner, Weizenbier, and Alt, are brewed according to the deutsche Reinheitsgebot, i. Large family meals are still common at noontime on Saturdays and Sundays. These are often followed in mid-afternoon by Kaffee und Kuchen, the German version of tea time. Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Special meals usually include meat, fish, or fowl, along with one of a number of starchy foods, which vary by region.

Alternatively, Germans often celebrate in restaurants, which often feature cuisines of other nations. Greek restaurants tend to be more moderately priced, French restaurants are often more expensive, and the especially popular Italian restaurants span the range of price categories. The most important holiday meal is Christmas dinner.

Regional and family traditions vary, but this often consists of goose, duck, or turkey, supplemented by red cabbage and potatoes or potato dumplings. Basic Economy. Since the late nineteenth century, the German economy has been shaped by industrial production, international trade, and the rise of consumer culture.

Consequently, the number of people involved in agricultural production has steadily declined. At the end of the twentieth century, only 2. Nevertheless, 48 percent of the total area of Germany was devoted to agriculture, and agricultural products covered 85 percent of domestic food needs. Land Tenure and Property. The reform of feudal land tenure was not initiated in Germany until the period of upheaval and change during or following the Napoleonic Wars.

In the various German states of those days, land reform was typically part of a broader reform plan that affected many aspects of political, economic, and social life. Programs for land reform, which were begun in the first decades of the nineteenth century, often were not completed until the second half of the century. Subsequently, however, new technologies and new organizational forms allowed agriculture to become an increasingly efficient branch of the modern economy.

As the nineteenth century progressed, production rose dramatically. Simultaneously, the workforce shifted away from agriculture and into industry. Following World War II, agricultural production was subject to further modernization, which resulted in fewer farmers on fewer farms of greater size. Nevertheless, the family farms of West Germany were on the average relatively small, the great majority having less than acres 40 hectares.

In East Germany, the postwar reform of agriculture was planned and executed by the state and the ruling socialist party. The most important aspects of this reform were the redistribution of land in , the formation of agricultural collectives between and , and the regional cooperation among different local collectives in the late s and s. This led to the creation of large, industrialized, cooperative farms. At the end of the Cold War , however, over 10 percent of the East German population was involved in agricultural production, while West German farmers and farm workers made up only 5 percent of the population.

After the reunification of Germany in , agriculture in eastern territories was privatized. The Federal Republic of Germany has liberal property laws which guarantee the right to private property. This right is, however, subject to a number of restrictions, especially with regard to state prerogatives concerning public utilities, public construction projects, mining rights, cultural preservation, antitrust issues, public safety, and issues of national security, to name only a few.

Following the German reunification, there were a number of property issues to be resolved, since the GDR had expropriated private property and had not taken appropriate action with regard to private property expropriated during the Third Reich. The farmland taken from landowners between and was explicitly excluded from the reunification treaty; otherwise, it was required that expropriated property be restored to private owners.

The ruling principle in this process was "restitution over compensation. In agriculture, ownership issues were usually clear, since the land exploited by the cooperatives had remained in private hands. Since, however, the cooperatives had worked the land for over thirty years, building roads and buildings irrespective of property boundaries, private owners faced many practical difficulties in gaining access to their land. Commercial Activities. In Germany, there is a strong tradition of handwerk, or manual trades.

In the manual trades, training, qualification, and licensing are regulated by special ordinances. Training and qualification occur through vocational schools and internships. These are an integral part of the modern educational system, though some of the vocabulary is reminiscent of guilds, which were abolished in the nineteenth century. For example, the owner or manager of a business enterprise in the manual trades is required to have his or her Meisterbrief master craftsman's certificate.

In the mids, the eleven most important manual trades, in terms of both the number of firms and the total number of employees, were those of barbers and hairdressers, electricians, automobile mechanics, carpenters, housepainters, masons, metalworkers, plumbers, bakers, butchers, and building- and window-cleaners. Major Industries. Among the industrial countries of Europe, Germany was a late comer, retaining a largely agricultural orientation until the later nineteenth century.

Following German unification in , rapid industrial development exploited extensive coal resources in the Ruhr Valley, in the Saarland, in areas surrounding Leipzig, and in Lusatia. Building upon a strong tradition of manual trades, Germany became a leader in steel production and metalworking. Coal reserves also provided the basis for an emerging carbo-chemical industry.


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When, in the decades following World War II, heavy industry migrated to sites in Asia and Latin America, Germany experienced a dramatic decrease in the number of industrial jobs; this was accompanied by the growth of the service sector including retail, credit, insurance, the professions, and tourism. At the beginning of the s, over half of the workforce was employed in industry; by , however, this number had dwindled to less than one third. In the early twenty-first century, the most important industries in Germany are automobile manufacturing and the production of automobile parts, the machine industry, the metal products industry, the production of electrical appliances, the chemical industry, the plastics industry, and food processing.

After the United States, Germany has the second largest export economy in the world. In , export accounted for 25 percent of the gross domestic product and import for nearly 22 percent. Export goods include products from the major industries cited above. Other than coal, Germany lacks fossil fuels, especially oil and natural gas. These products must be imported. Germany's most important trading partners are France, the United States, the United Kingdom, and other European lands. It also trades actively with East Asian countries and has become increasingly involved in eastern Europe.

Division of Labor. The work force in Germany includes laborers, entrepreneurs, employees and clerical workers, managers and administrators, and members of the various professions. Access to particular occupations is determined by a number of factors, including family background, individual ability, and education or training. Laborers in Germany are usually highly skilled, having completed vocational training programs. Beginning in the s, the ranks of the laboring class were augmented by migrant workers from Turkey and other countries bordering on the Mediterranean.

Both laborers and employees are represented by well organized and aggressive unions, which, in the postwar era, have often cooperated with entrepreneurial organizations and the state in long range economic planning. Since the s, rising labor costs and the globalization of industrial production have led to high rates of unemployment, especially in areas where heavy industry was dominant, as in Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia. The problem of unemployment in the Federal Republic of Germany was exacerbated by the entry of the five new federal states of the former GDR in As a result, its industry collapsed and hundreds of thousands lost their jobs.

In , unemployment rates were over 10 percent in former West Germany and 20 percent in former East Germany. The figures for the latter, however, did not take into account those who were involved in make-work and reeducation programs. Since many were pessimistic about the possibility of creating new jobs in eastern Germany, the flow of migrants to western Germany continued to the early twenty-first century. Classes and Castes. By the early twentieth century, German society was divided into more or less clear-cut classes.

Industrial workers included both the skilled and the unskilled. The former came from the manual trades but became factory laborers when it had proved impossible or undesirable to remain independent. The middle classes included small businessmen and independent members of the trades, white-collar employees, professionals, and civil servants.

Finally, the upper or upper middle classes consisted of industrialists, financiers, high government officials, and large landowners, among others. Members of these classes were usually associated with corresponding political organizations and milieus, for example, the workers with unions and socialist or communist organizations, and the middle classes with a range of bourgeois parties, occupational organizations, and patriotic societies. The National Socialist Nazi Party found supporters among all social classes, especially the middle classes. The Third Reich was, in many ways, an upwardly mobile society, which created new jobs, provided subsidies, and opened career opportunities for party members.

Childhood, Class and Kin in the Roman World

The success of many party supporters was gained at the expense of members of the workers' movement and the Jews and other minorities. In the prosperous West German society of the postwar era, class boundaries seemed to open up and admit more members into a new, more inclusive middle class. Correspondingly, the political distinction between the bourgeois and the socialist parties lessened.

In East Germany, the Socialist Unity Party wanted to eliminate the bourgeoisie, which had compromised itself through its support of National Socialism. This was to be achieved by nationalizing larger private enterprises, forcing independent farmers to enter agricultural cooperatives, and favoring the children of workers in education and hiring programs. The GDR described itself as a "workers' and peasants' state," but some social scientists have described it as a leveled middle-class People collecting pieces of the Berlin Wall in Built in , the wall was a visible reminder of Germany's defeat in World War II and subsequent division into first four, then two distinct and independent zones.

Since the entry of the five new federal states into the Federal Republic, class relations have been reshuffled in eastern Germany once again, sending many westward in search of work and bringing many eastward to occupy leading positions in government and corporations. Large groups of retired and unemployed persons live side by side with entrepreneurs, managers, employees, civil servants, and others working in the service sector.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Social class in Germany is not only a matter of training, employment, and income but also a style of life, self-understanding, and self-display. Modern sociologists have tended to focus on the full range of social milieus that make up German society and on the various kinds of consumer behavior that characterize each milieu.


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Thus, variations in interior design in private residences, eating habits, taste in music and in other entertainment forms, reading materials, personal hygiene and clothing, sexual behavior, and leisure activities can all be viewed as indexes of association with one of a finite set of social milieus. A single example must suffice. Members of both groups will probably also read the politically moderate and rather sophisticated weekly newspaper, Die Zeit Hamburg. Conservatives who are more interested in politics and business than in arts and literature may read Die Welt another Hamburg newspaper , while readers who identify more closely with an alternative leftist milieu are more likely to reach for die tageszeitung, or taz a newspaper published in Berlin.

In contrast, those with a vocational education, who are small business owners, employees, or workers may read the very popular Bild Hamburg , a daily tabloid newspaper. Finally, those who still feel loyal to the defunct GDR or who hope that socialism will come again often read Neues Deutschland Berlin , which was the official organ of the Socialist Unity Party, that is the East German communist party.

Germany is a parliamentary democracy, where public authority is divided among federal, state, and local levels of government. In federal elections held every four years, all citizens who are eighteen years of age or older are entitled to cast votes for candidates and parties, which form the Bundestag, or parliament, on the basis of vote distribution. The majority party or coalition then elects the head of the government—the Kanzler chancellor —who appoints the heads of the various government departments.

Similarly, states and local communities elect parliaments or councils and executives to govern in their constitutionally guaranteed spheres. Each state government appoints three to five representatives to serve on the Bundesrat, or federal council, an upper house that must approve all legislation affecting the states. Leadership and Political Officials. In , the Greens merged with a party that originated in the East German citizens' movement, called Alliance Since the late s, various right-wing parties have occasionally received enough votes at least 5 percent of the total to gain seats in some of the regional parliaments.

The growth of right wing parties is a result of political agitation, economic difficulties, and public concern over the increasing rate of immigration. The Christian Democrats won again in , but in the election of , they were ousted by the Social Democrats, who formed a coalition government with Alliance 90 the Greens. Social Problems and Control.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, police forces are authorized by the Departments of Interior of the sixteen federal states. In the early twenty-first century, organized crime and violence by right-wing groups constituted the most serious domestic dangers. Military Activity.

German men who are eighteen years of age are required to serve for ten to twelve months in the armed forces—or an equivalent length of time in volunteer civilian service. In , Germans began a public debate about the restructuring of the armed forces. Germany's social welfare programs are among the oldest of any modern state. In , the newly founded German Reich passed legislation for health insurance, accident insurance, and for invalid and retirement benefits. The obligation of the state to provide for the social welfare of its citizens was reinforced in the Basic Law of In the Federal Republic of Germany, the state supplements monthly payments made by citizens to health insurance, nursing care insurance, social security, and unemployment insurance.

Beginning in the late twentieth century, questions were raised about the long-term viability of existing social welfare programs. There are associations for business and industry, for workers and employees unions , for social welfare, for environmental protection, and for a number of other causes or special interests. Through such associations, members seek to influence policy making or to act directly in order to bring about desired changes in society.

Associations that contribute to public welfare typically operate according to the principle of subsidiarity. This means that the state recognizes their contribution and augments their budgets with subsidies. In local communities in Germany, public life is often shaped to a large degree by Vereine , or voluntary associations, in which citizens pursue common People fill a street in Lindau.

Since the late s, many inner-city areas have become pedestrian zones. Such organizations often provide the immediate context for group formation, sociability, and the local politics of reputation.

Sven Günther

Beginning in the late twentieth century, German society was strongly affected by the so-called new social movements, which were typically concerned with such issues as social justice, the environment, and peaceful coexistence among neighboring states. In the last years of the GDR, several civil rights groups emerged throughout the country and helped usher in the Wende literally, turning or transition in and Division of Labor by Gender.

With the transition from agricultural to industrial society in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, women, who had been largely restricted to the domestic sphere, began to gain access to a wider range of economic roles. More than a century after this process began, women are represented all walks of life. Nevertheless, they are still more likely to be responsible for childcare and household management; and they are disproportionately represented among teachers, nurses, office workers, retail clerks, hair dressers, and building and window cleaners.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. The Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany states that men and women have equal rights under the law. Nevertheless, women did not enjoy juridical equality in marriage and the family until new family legislation was passed in Previously, family law, which had been influenced by the religious orientation of the Christian Democratic and Christian Social parties, had stated that women could seek outside employment only if this were consistent with their household duties. East German law had granted women equal rights in marriage, in the family, and in the workplace at a much earlier date.

Needless to say, in both the Federal Republic and in the former GDR, the ideal of equality of opportunity for men and women was imperfectly realized. Even under conditions of full employment in East Germany, for example, women were under represented in leading positions in government, industry, and agricultural production.

In Germany, the basic kinship group, as defined by law, is the nuclear family, consisting of opposite sex partners, usually married, and their children; and, in fact, the majority of households are made up of married couples with or without children. Between and , however, there were fewer and fewer marriages both in total numbers and per capita. In , there were a total of , marriages, or eleven marriages for every thousand persons; in , by contrast, there were , marriages, or five marriages for every thousand persons. It is estimated that 35 percent of all marriages ended in divorce in the late twentieth century.

In light of these facts, there has been much media speculation on the "crisis of the family," as has been the case in other industrial societies of western Europe and North America as well. Despite the increase in the number of unmarried couples, with or without children, such couples make up only 5 percent of all households. Nevertheless, the rising number of children who are born to unmarried mothers currently 18 percent, lower than the European Union average , the rising divorce rate, and the growth of alternative forms of partnership have, since , led to a broadening of the concept of family and a liberalization of family law and family policy.

Much more dramatic is the reduction of the birthrate. The annual number of deaths has been greater than the annual number of births since On the eve of reunification in , there was an annual birthrate of 1, children per 1, women in West Germany and 1, children per 1, women in East Germany. In the new federal states of former East Germany, the birthrate had sunken to 1, children per 1, women by In both parts of Germany, the reduction of the birthrate is matched by a progressive reduction in the average size of households.

In , less than 5 percent of private households had five or more members. Since , the Federal Republic of Germany has provided for the payment of Kindergeld child-raising benefits to families or single parents with children. As of January , these payments were marks or approximately half that amount in dollars per month for the first and second child up until his or her eighteenth birthday— and, in some cases, until the twenty-seventh birthday. In the new federal states of former East Germany, there are fewer marriages and fewer children; but a disproportionately high number of children are born to unmarried couples.

These differences between former East Germany and former West Germany may be attributed, in part, to the economic difficulties in the new federal states. Some of the differences, however, may be understood as lingering effects of the divergence of family law and social policy during the separation of the East and the West. In the GDR, the official policy of full employment for men and women was realized by providing women with benefits and services such as pregnancy leave, nursing leave, day-care centers, and kindergartens.

With the cutback or elimination of such policies following the entry of the new federal states into the Federal Republic of Germany, there was both a greater hesitancy to have children and a greater tendency to view having children separately from marital status. Kin Groups. A society the size of Germany lends itself to the statistical analysis of family relations. Close mobile search navigation Article Navigation. Volume Suzanne Dixon, editor. Susan Treggiari.


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