Hope, Trust, and Planning: Socio-Spatial Groundings of the German Middle-Classes’ Diverging Perceptions and Processing of Current Irritations

Friday, 20 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Nils C. KUMKAR, University of Leipzig, Germany
Sociology has identified multiple irritations of the middle class way of life that are behind the much diagnosed surge in middle-class anxieties in the global north. However, the way in which the different factions of the middle class cope with these irritations are fare from uniform. In this presentation, I will use preliminary results of our study on the German middle class’ conduct of living to reconstruct the socio-spatial groundings of these differences.

In our project we conduct and analyze biographical-narrative interviews with middle-class members in Germany. The aim is to reconstruct the habitualized conducts of life that form the background and the generative grammar for the diverging ways in which the multiple challenges and irritations that the middle class is subjected to are processed and coped with. We find that a variety of factors greatly impact both the perception and the processing of risks, ranging from different familial backgrounds that foster or prevent structural optimism in socio-biographical crises and close social networks that provide trust and limit the ambitions that one measures one’s success with, to the institutional and economic peculiarities of different career-paths that prevent, enable, or enforce planning as a way of coping with risk.