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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | bologna.lab | Projekte des bologna.labs | Berlin Perspectives | Lehrveranstaltungen | Wintersemester 2015/16 | Introduction to German social and educational policies: the National Mimium Wage and the Educational Reform in Berlin

Introduction to German social and educational policies: the National Mimium Wage and the Educational Reform in Berlin

Taught by Anne Christine Holtmann

Monday, 10:00 - 12:00, Hausvogteiplatz 5-7, Room 0323-26

The seminar language will be English. Course requirements: English at least B2. German A1-A2 would be very helpful, but is not a requirement. 


Course Description

This seminar will deal with the question of how welfare state institutions and concrete social and education policies and initiatives shape individual life courses and life risks.

We will approach this questions through a comparative perspective and through conducting qualitative interviews. The first part gives an introduction to comparative research on welfare states, education systems and the transition into the labour market.
In the second part, we investigate the effects of the recent introduction of a minimum wage in Germany. We will conduct qualitative interviews to find out about the impacts of the minimum wage on employment and on the transition into the labour market.
n the third part, we will investigate the transition from school to work of low educated young people and of refugees. We will get an overview of different policy measures and civil society initiatives to support the entry into the labour market, and conduct qualitative interviews.
In the fourth part, we focus on the impact of education systems on students’ performance and inequality in a comparative perspective and conduct interviews on the secondary school reform in Berlin. Before the reform, students in Berlin were separated into three different school types at the age of 12 with only the highest school tracks leading to A-levels that give access to universities. Since the reform, students are tracked into two different school types only, which are both supposed to offer the possibility to complete A-levels. We will investigate how the reform worked in practice.
To sum up, the seminar explores how social and educational policies impact on people’s lives both from a comparative perspective and through interviews with people in Berlin.

Learning outcomes

  • Explore important concepts in the field of comparative research on welfare states and school-to-work transitions.
  • Understand possible trade-off in education and labour market policy.
  • Locate one’s own experience in a comparative perspective.
  • Plan, conduct and analyse qualitative interviews. Understand strength and weaknesses of quantitative and qualitative research.
  • Discover Berlin from the perspective of social issues and get in touch with and talk to people the students might otherwise not be involved with.
  • Relate research question, theoretical foundations, operationalization and empirical analyses to each other.

Literature (available via dropbox) 

  • Esping-Andersen, G. (1990). The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Princeton, NJ:  Princeton University Press. Introduction, chapter 1 & 2.

  • Jens Alber, “What the European and American Welfare States have in Common and Where they Differ: Facts and Fiction in Comparisons of the European Social Model and the United States,” Journal of European Social Policy (2010).

  • Mayer, K. U. (2005). Life Courses and Life Chances in a Comparative Perspective. In Svallfors, S. (Ed.). Analyzing Inequality: Life Chances and Social Mobility in Comparative Perspective. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, pp 17-55.

  • Dølvik, Jon Erik; Andrew Martin (eds) (2014). European Social Models from Crisis to Crisis. Employment and Inequality in the Era of Monetary Integration, Oxford University Press

  • Estevez-Abe, M., Iversen, T. und D. Soskice (2001). Social Protection and the Formation of Skills: A Reinterpretation of the Welfare State. In: Hall, P. A. und D. Soskice (Eds.), Varieties of Capitalism. The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage. Oxford: OUP, pp. 145-183. 

  • Shavit, Y. and W. Müller (2000). Vocational Secondary Education. Where Diversion and Where Safety Net? European Societies, 2 (1): 29-50. 

  • Marsden, D. (1990). „Institutions and Labour Mobility: Occupational and Internal Labour Markets in Britain, France, Italy and West Germany“, in: Brunetta, R. and C. Dell’ Aringa (Eds.), Labour Relations and Economic Performance. Houndmills/Basingstoke: Macmillan, pp. 414-438.

  • Gangl, M. (2001). European Patterns of Labour Market Entry. A Dichotomy of Occupationalised vs. Non-Occupationalised Systems?, European Societies 3 (4): 471-494.

  • Hillmert, S. and M. Jacobs (2003). Social Inequality in Higher Education. Is Vocational Training a Pathway Leading to or Away from University?, European Sociological Review 19: 319-334.

  • Allmendinger, J. (1989). Educational Systems and Labour Market Outcomes. European Sociological Review, 5 (3): 231-50.

  • Busemeyer, Marius R. and Rita Nikolai (2010): Education, in  Francis G. Castles, Stephan Leibfried, Jane Lewis, Herbert Obinger and Christopher Pierson (eds): The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State, Oxford University Press

  • Does Raising The Minimum Wage Kill Jobs? Introducing the debate.

  • Jordan Weissmann: Should We Raise the Minimum Wage? 11 Questions and Answers. Who earns it? Does it help the poor? Does it really kill jobs? Those issues, and more. The Atlantic 16.12.2015

  • The Economist (2015): A reckless wager. A global movement toward much higher minimum wages is dangerous, 25.7.2015

  • Neumark, David; Williman L. Wascher (2010): The Effect of Minimum Wages on Employment. In: (ebd.) Minimum Wages. MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England

  • Rainer Woratschka (2015): Mindestlohn? Halb so schlimm! ZEIT 10. April 2015. 

  • Weiss, Robert S. (1995), Learning From Strangers. The Art and Method of Qualitative Interview Studies. Chapter 4: Interviewing.

  • Goodin, Robert E., et al. (1999), Introduction. In: The Real Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. CambridgeUniversity Press.

  • Brian C. Rathbun (2008): Interviewing and Qualitative Field Methods: Pragmatism and Practicalities. In: Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier, Henry E. Brady, and David Collier (eds.): The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology. 

  • Breen, Richard (2005): Explaining Cross-national Variation in Youth Unemployment. Market and Institutional Factors, European Sociological Review 21(2), pp 125-134

  • Solga, Heike (2008): "Lack of Training. Employment Opportunities for Low-Skilled Persons from a Sociological and Microeconomic Perspective". In: Karl Ulrich Mayer/Heike Solga (Eds.): Skill Formation. Interdisciplinary and Cross-National Perspectives. Cambridge u.a.: Cambridge University Press, pp. 173-204

  • Herman G. Van de Werfhorst and Jonathan J.B. Mijs (2010): Achievement Inequality and the Institutional Structure of Educational Systems: A Comparative Perspective, Annu. Rev. Sociol. 2010. 36: 407–28

  • Gamoran, A. (2009). Tracking and inequality: New directions for research and practice. The Routledge International Handbook of the Sociology of Education

  • Busemeyer, Marius R. and Rita Nikolai (2010): Education, in  Francis G. Castles, Stephan Leibfried, Jane Lewis, Herbert Obinger and Christopher Pierson (eds): The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State, Oxford University Press

  • Jürgen Baumert, Kai Maaz, Marko Neumann, Michael Becker, Hanna Dumont, Susanne Böse, Michaela Kropf: Die Berliner Schulstrukturreform – Bewertung durch die beteiligten Akteure und Konsequenzen des neuen Übergangsverfahrens von der Grundschule in die weiterführenden Schulen: Zentrale Befunde der BERLIN-Studie im Überblick

  • Martin Klesmann (2015): Jetzt kommt die Reform der Schulreform.  Berliner Zeitung 1.6. 2015