chapter  6
19 Pages

National welfare state, biography and migration: labour migrants, ethnic Germans and the re-ascription of welfare state membership: Michael Bommes

Introduction In modern society individuals are not 'members of society'. The chances to become included in different social realms - the economy, law, politics, education, health and the family - are no longer based on descent, or belonging to a social strata, or to an ethnic or religious group. It is individuals themselves that principally achieve inclusion in these different social realms and the risks of failure are high. Consequently, if we understand modern national welfare states as organisational complexes which try to heighten the chances of inclusion and minimise risks of exclusion for their citizens, then one central structural form of providing inclusion has been the institutionalisation of the modern life course (Kohli 1985). In this chapter, I discuss the reasons why this institutionalisation of the life course and the safeguard within it of individuals with a structured biography have become central for the mode of operation of welfare states. I then show that migrations that transgress state borders highlight some very specific social preconditions of these arrangements for inclusion. If biographies are understood as the result of a sequential process in which chances for social participation, supported by welfare states, are accumulated, then migrants are likely to be structurally poor because of their specific relation to national welfare states.