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Sustainability in German Family Policy and Politics

GPS, Vol. 6 No. 3, (2010)

Since the turn of the new millennium, the term of sustainability is frequently used in the context of family policy in Germany. On a discursive level, ac-tors tend to refer to changes in actor constellations and in working style as well as in argumentation by using the term. This article aims at reflecting the understanding of sustainability in German family policy concerning its theoretical requirements—namely its normative and integrative aspects—, and at analyzing the implementation of participative aspects by pointing out challenges in actors’ cooperation. On the basis of three of the most important expert’s reports published in this context as well as of 18 interviews conducted with scientists and policy makers, the paper finds that, although actors frequently refer to sustainability, they have a very heterogeneous understanding of this term concerning normative and integrative aspects. Furthermore, also their behavior in terms of participative aspects shows that theoretical requirements are not integrated into the relevant actors’ under-standing of sustainability. That is why it can be assumed that sustainability and the underlying discourse in German family policy are not (only) a concrete ambition in themselves but are also used as a means to other ends.

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