Institut für Empirische Kulturwissenschaft und Europäische Ethnologie
Abstract of Project:
The statement “the pensions are safe” by the former Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Norbert Blüm, in the year 1986 has burned its self in the collective memory. But in the year 2001, as part of a bout of neoliberal reforms, while the traditional welfare state was transforming into an activating state, there was a major shift in the German pension insurance politics. Before that time a state pension system had been in place, which insured everybody a decent living after their work life - possibly supplemented by an occupational pension. However, with the introduction of the so called Riester Pension everything seemed to change: the state pension system was now only considered as one pillar of a three-pillar-system - the other two pillars being the occupational pension and the Riester Pension. The Riester Pension is a complex system of state funded, individual private pension insurance. Before the implementation of the Riester Pension there had been no need for a private pension insurance for many people but since then, stories of poverty at an old age in media and politics have been increasing rapidly and suggest the need of a private insurance. But still: many Germans hesitate, when it comes to their very own private pension insurance plan. The Riester Pension is often considered as a non-transparent insurance model, which only benefits the private insurance companies or those people who already have a secure pension.
In my research I would like to pursue two main questions: how do insurance consultants try to build up trust towards the offered private pension plans? And secondly: How do (potential) customers reflect their own need for a private pension? Both questions lead to plenty of minor questions, for example: how do people (consultants and customers) explain themselves and others the complex economic system behind the Riester Pension? How does the sociocultural position in society effect their decision making? What are the cultural dimensions of trust?
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Irene Götz