Germany's Hidden Crisis

Germany's Hidden Crisis:Social Decline in the Heart of Europe

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One of the German-speaking world’s leading young sociologists lays out modern Germany’s social and political crisis and its implications for the future of the European hegemon.

Upward social mobility represented a core promise of life under the “old” West German welfare state, in which millions of skilled workers upgraded their VWs to Audis, bought their first homes, and sent their children to university. Not so in today’s Federal Republic, however, where the gears of the so-called “elevator society” have long since ground to a halt. In the absence of the social mobility of yesterday, widespread social exhaustion and anxiety have emerged across mainstream society. Oliver Nachtwey analyses the reasons for this social rupture in post-war German society and investigates the conflict potential emerging as a result, concluding that although the country has managed to muddle through the Eurocrisis largely unscathed thus far, simmering tensions beneath the surface nevertheless threaten to undermine the German system’s stability in the years to come.

Nachtwey's book was recipient of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation’s 2016 Hans-Matthöfer-Preis for Economic Writing.


  • An insightful account of the crises threatening German stability.

    Morning Star
  • Nachtwey’s book addresses a glaring absence in contemporary political and academic debate, takes up urgent questions and puts forward compelling arguments. In this sense, the book was long overdue, and represents a real advance in understanding the trajectory of social inequality in modern Germany.

    Marcel van der Linden
  • Nachtwey makes the convincing argument that the downwardly mobile society is not without alternative, but rather has been vehemently criticized and opposed from the outset by substantial layers of society. For this and other reasons, it ought to be read by anyone who feels like they no longer understand modern society.

    Wolfgang Streeck