BBC TV programme Das Auto

  natdoor 21:13 05 Aug 13
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Did anyone watch Das Auto on BBC last night? Through examination of the post-war history of german and british car manufacturing it highlighted the social differences between them and us, placing the blame clearly on the heads of management and on Thatcherite policies for our lamentable performance. We would do well to begin the transformation to a more meritocratic society. Germany has had the advantage of its monarchy and aristocracy being dissolved as the result of defeat in two world wars and has a virtually classless society with, for example, minimal private education. They really are "all in it together".

  Aitchbee 22:24 05 Aug 13

Just a personal observation: ( I did not see the TV program, natdoor.)

The staff at Lidl 'n' Aldi, both of which are German-owned companies are able to multi-task and are better organised than any of the British based 'big-name' supermarkets I have shopped at.

Each member of their staff seem[s] to have the ability to either be store manager or shelf-stacker with ease.

... it must be a German 'thing'.

Das is Gute!

  Quickbeam 22:29 05 Aug 13

I believe that I have the ability to manage a global bank better than them wot's there now. Where do I apply to?

  Forum Editor 22:38 05 Aug 13

"They really are "all in it together".

Really? I suggest that you visit some of the major German manufacturing towns and see for yourself. Middle class Germans make determined and successful efforts to exclude working class children from the best schools. As a result the children of middle class parents are four times as likely to attend universities as children from a working class background.

Germany has a massive class inequality problem, and the government is making efforts to tackle it. In 2000 an educational analysis of Western nations showed that the German education system was trailing far behind many comparable countries as far as social mobility and academic achievement were concerned.

All in it together? Don't believe it for a second. In 2012 Dr Reinhard Pollak of the Social Science Research Center Berlin produced a report saying that "Compared with its European neighbours and North America, Germany is the country with the lowest levels of social mobility. Those born into a particular social "class" have little chance of making their way up to the class immediately above as they go through life."

  flycatcher1 22:40 05 Aug 13

And "Red Robbo" was a "Thatcherite Manager" ?

  wee eddie 23:09 05 Aug 13

I will be sticking my neck out here but:

Is there any reason why Social Mobility should be a solution to anything?

I agree that it's tough if you arrive at the bottom and nice to arrive at the top, but I haven't noticed those that make it from the bottom to the top, having any particular sympathy with those below them.

Anyway most hierarchies collapse after two to three generations.

To change things quicker does not really appear to benefit society much

  BT 08:33 06 Aug 13

The staff at Lidl 'n' Aldi, both of which are German-owned companies are able to multi-task and are better organised than any of the British based 'big-name' supermarkets I have shopped at.

Probably because that is what they are required to do. I believe they are paid much better than staff at the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury, and in return are expected to be multi skilled.

  natdoor 09:07 06 Aug 13

FT

I have worked in Germany for three years, have a German wife and visit often to see many relatives. I can assure you that it is a more egalitarian society than the UK. It is not surprising that more children from "middle class" families attend university. However, others undertake apprenticeships or work-based training and have better working conditions than in the UK and are treated with more respect.

I will give just one example of the difference in attitudes. All members of staff, including top management, ate in the same dining room at the place where I worked. Everyone was required to place their plate and cutlery on the fliesband after the meal. At a comparable company in the UK there were four levels of dining room for differing staff levels.

  FritzyfromBerlin 12:27 06 Aug 13

trt

  FritzyfromBerlin 12:28 06 Aug 13

Germany has a massive class inequality problem, and the government is making efforts to tackle it. In 2000 an educational analysis of Western nations showed that the German education system was trailing far behind many comparable countries as far as social mobility and academic achievement were concerned.

German here. I think it's a misinterpretation to say that there is a class war going on here that is aimed at keeping lower class children out of universities. It is indeed more likely for people to attend university when they are children of parents who attended university. Germany was even criticized by the United Nations for that disparity. The truth though is that there is no concerted effort to keep lower class children out of good schools or universities. It's just that many Germans don't find it necessary to get a university education to be able to make a successful rise into the middle class. Here a highly trained and highly paid job at an assembly line at Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler Benz, Siemens or any of tens of thousands of successful SMEs guarantees a rise into the middle class that commands respect from your fellow citizens. And that is due to great working conditions, good salaries and job security such companies offer. Such a cultural attitude may be misinterpreted as barring lower classes from higher education but it is just a cultural difference. A difference, I might add, that saves us form problems that countries like the USA experience. There a college education is almost mandatory. That results in millions of university graduates who are unemployable or work in the lowest of jobs that don't relate to the worker's education even superficially. One might argue than our culture of respect for jobs that don't require a university degree just works better.

  Forum Editor 16:38 06 Aug 13

FritzyfromBerlin

I didn't say there was a 'class war going on' I simply pointed out what a German Research Centre had to say about social mobility.

The point about social mobility is important because people naturally aspire to better themselves in terms of their socio-economic status. It is something which manifests itself in all cultures. Without the infrastructure that permits social mobility you tend to find apathy and dissatisfaction, and as I said earlier, the German government is on record as saying it is concerned about it.

"One might argue than our culture of respect for jobs that don't require a university degree just works better."

Indeed, and such a culture is an excellent thing, one that other societies have as well, but that isn't a solution in itself. Every person, no matter what his or her background, ought to be able to aspire to benefit from a higher education, not simply because it might lead to a better job (which it might), but for the satisfaction that can come from knowing you've achieved a certain academic standard - education for education's sake if you like.

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