Industrial Relations and Social Security

  • Graham Hallett


A foreigner who spends any length of time in a country is bound to form impressions of the way social relations work. These impressions — which will say just as much about his own country — are probably as important as anything he reads in sociological studies. The author — as an Englishman in West Germany — was struck by the clearly defined distinctions of status, combined with a relative absence of class distinctions. That is to say, there are clearly defined chains of command in government and industry, and people are conscious of their status in the organisation, as shown by the use of functional titles as a form of address — ‘Herr Direktor’, ‘Herr Regierungsrat’ — or even (a nice and useful touch) ‘Herr Ober’, short for ‘Herr Oberkellner’, for waiters. At the same time there is considerable uniformity of life-style. German directors and trade unionists dress and look alike, their homes are furnished in the same sort of style, with differing degrees of lavishness, and they speak alike. There are strong regional accents, but hardly any class accents. (Coming back to South-East England, one could scarcely believe that people were not putting on caricatures of upper-class and lower-class accents.)


Social Security Federal Republic Trade Union Industrial Relation Social Economy 
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Industrial Relations

  1. See entries under ‘Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund’, ‘Mitbestimmung’ and ‘Betriebsverfassung’ in Staatslexikon and Handwörterbuch.Google Scholar
  2. Dr A. Klein ‘Social Policy in Germany’ and ‘Federal Ministry of Labour and the Social Structure’, in Co-determination and the law governing Works Councils and Staff Representation in the Public Services (1963).Google Scholar
  3. Mitbestimmung — eine Forderung unserer Zeit (Düsseldorf: Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, 1971).Google Scholar
  4. Mitbestimmung — Forderungen und Tatsachen (Köln: Deutsches Industrieinstitut, 1971).Google Scholar
  5. Gisbert Kley, Co-determination in coal and steel — Replies to the D.G.B.’s demands (Köln: Bundesvereinigung der deutschen Arbeitgeberverbände).Google Scholar
  6. Biedenkopf-Kommission, Mitbestimmung im Unternehmen. Bericht der Sachverständigenkommission zur Auswertung der bisherigen Erfahrungen bei der Mitbestimmung (Bonn: Verlag Dr Hans Heger, 1970).Google Scholar
  7. H. A. Clegg, A New Approach to Industrial Democracy (Oxford: Blackwell, 1960).Google Scholar
  8. Campbell Balfour, Industrial Relations in the Common Market (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972).Google Scholar

Social Insurance

  1. Entries under ‘Rentenversicherung’ and ‘Krankenversicherung’ in Staats-lexikon and Handwörterbuch.Google Scholar
  2. The Federal Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, Survey of Social Security in the Federal Republic of Germany (1970).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Graham Hallett 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Graham Hallett
    • 1
  1. 1.University CollegeCardiffUK

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