The Public Interest

Germany: The Untouchable Welfare State

Michael S. Greve

Summer 1985

IN A COLLECTION of essays of rather mixed quality, the German sociologist and Habermas student Claus Offe tells the familiar story of the rise, success, and crisis of “social democracy.” Offe argues at a level of abstraction that treats all advanced Western democracies as “welfare states.” Notwithstanding the severe misgivings one may voice about an approach that lumps Sweden and the United States into the same category, Offe’s volume does contribute to an understanding of post-war West German politics. The Federal Republic all but perfected social democracy, and will be one of the last countries to abandon it.

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