Rugged Affluence

Poverty, Economic Crisis and Welfare State in West Germany and the United Kingdom

With policies on poverty, this project looks at a fundamental function of the welfare state that became increasingly important from the crisis of the Keynesian full-employment welfare state in the 1970s onwards. This challenge confronted all European welfare states in a similar way. Their responses were shaped by the varying significance of social inequality in the respective political culture, the resilience to poverty of the social security systems and differing economic contexts. For the purpose of contrasting such differences, the research project chose to compare West Germany and the United Kingdom and examined policies on poverty along three main axes: from the perspective of social history, the study looks at the development of income inequality and group-specific, different risks of impoverishment. A perspective of historical discourse focused on different forms of perception and definition of poverty in science, the public sphere and politics. A perspective of political history investigated policies on poverty as part of the crisis management of welfare states. In terms of research strategy, it was a question of outlining the last third of the twentieth century as a period of upheaval in modern industrial societies and linking approaches of social history with the history of the modern welfare state.

Priv.-Doz. Dr. Winfried Süß

Centre for Contemporary History
Am Neuen Markt 1
14467 Potsdam

Office: Am Neuen Markt 1, room 0.17a
Phone: 0331/28991-71
Fax: 0331/28991-60

Email: suess [at]