Research Group on Aging and the Life Course (FALL)

Research: ! AGEPOL


Old age and trade union politics

Funded by the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung, 1990-1992


Almost unperceived and quite unintentionally, the German Trade Union Federation (DGB) has become one of the largest old-age organizations: About 1.6 million retirees, pensioners and early retirees are unionized. The study is the first comprehensive analysis of the relationship between trade unions and the growing numbers of the elderly in an aging society. Traditionally, the trade unions focus on the labor force. Since the German unions are based on industries, it is one of the core questions whether they will have to change their organizational bases vis-á-vis their aged constituency. Thus the German Trade Union Confederation is getting a major role in the process of shaping a unionist old age policy. By covering the interests of the elderly and providing full membership rights for them the unions will be forced to change into the direction of universalistic orientations of citizenship rather than of particularistic orientations of the workplace and labor conditions.

The study comprises the following steps:

The study is embedded in a wider analysis of activities and representation of the elderly in other organizations such as political parties and voluntary organizations, including the Italian retirees' unions. Thus the old age politics of the trade unions can be compared with other senior citizens organizations.


Prof. Dr. Martin Kohli (Director)
Dr. Jürgen Wolf (Director)
Harald Künemund (Researcher)
Dr. Sighard Neckel (Researcher 1990-1991)
Holger Hainke (Researcher 1991-1992)
Christina Teipen (Research assistant)

Main publications

Jürgen Wolf, Martin Kohli & Harald Künemund (Hrsg.) (1994): Alter und gewerkschaftliche Politik. Auf dem Weg zur Rentnergewerkschaft? Köln: Bund-Verlag.

Harald Künemund, Sighard Neckel & Jürgen Wolf (1993): Die Rentnergewerkschaft - Ein neuer Akteur der Alterspolitik? In: Soziale Welt, 44, 537-554.

For additional articles see our list of publications.

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