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Social inequality, mobility, and the illegitimate inheritance of status : recruitment and career patterns of GDR business elites

Soziale Ungleichheit, Mobilität und illegitime Statusvererbung: die Rekrutierungs- und Karrieremuster von DDR-Wirtschaftseliten

Salheiser, Axel


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Abstract "Functional elites of the GDR, the so-called cadres, formed a rather large and inhomogeneous stratum of the socialist society. Empirical evidence based on quantitative analyses of large prosopographical and biographical datasets unveils paradoxical patterns of social inequality underlying the processes of recruitment and career mobility of cadres. Hereditary aspects had a greater impact on the allocation of social status than expected and thwarted the socialist project. Not only did a New Class or 'socialist intelligentsia' emerge, increasing social closure also reverberated a distinguishably 'bourgeois' tradition. In the 1980s, workers and cooperative farmers belonged to the most disadvantaged social strata in the 'Workers' and Peasants' State'. While this could be observed for different sectors of the GDR society, economy in particular gave an instructive example. Factories and large industrial combines (Kombinate) were led by businessmen who often did not even have a documented worker's origin. Instead, and in the first place, they boasted required aspects of high cultural capital, such as academic and special vocational training, and were politically reliable with regard to SED state party alignment and honorary functions. Thus, even the descendents of 'capitalist' entrepreneurs, persons with a National Socialist family background or persons with a personal NS past had fairly good prospects to embark on careers in the GDR economy. The paper briefly discusses statistical analyses of data on higher executive personnel such as director generals (CEOs), branch directors, and heads of department." (author's abstract)
Thesaurusschlagwörter education; historical analysis; recruitment; social inequality; elite; career; mobility; German Democratic Republic (GDR); GDR research; family; economic elite; elite research; manager; class society; social background; cadre; legitimacy; loyalty; reproduction; status allocation; coming to terms with the past
Klassifikation Erhebungstechniken und Analysetechniken der Sozialwissenschaften; allgemeine Geschichte
Methode empirisch; empirisch-quantitativ; historisch
Sprache Dokument Englisch
Publikationsjahr 2010
Seitenangabe S. 117-133
Zeitschriftentitel Historical Social Research, 35 (2010) 3
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.12759/hsr.35.2010.3.117-133
ISSN 0172-6404
Status Veröffentlichungsversion; begutachtet (peer reviewed)
Lizenz Creative Commons - Namensnennung, Nicht-kommerz.