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Was Communism Good for Social Justice?: A Comparative Analysis of the Two Germanies

Gordon Marshall
The British Journal of Sociology
Vol. 47, No. 3, Special Issue for Lockwood (Sep., 1996), pp. 397-420
DOI: 10.2307/591359
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/591359
Page Count: 24
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Was Communism Good for Social Justice?: A Comparative Analysis of the Two Germanies
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Abstract

This paper offers a cross-national comparative analysis of social inequality in the former Federal and Democratic Republics of Germany. Social policy in the GDR reflected a conflict between egalitarian and meritocratic conceptions of justice. Against this background, I attempt to determine whether or not half a century of communism reduced class inequalities of opportunity in East Germany, relative to those in the Federal Republic. I argue that the study of social mobility suggests little progress was made towards achieving this goal. Attitudinal data indicate that the perceived failure of the East German authorities to create a more open society may have exacerbated the problem of regime legitimation.

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