In order to explore the effects of German unification on the life course of East German women of three age cohorts, 36 biographical interviews were conducted. The purpose of the research was to examine whether unification meant a complete break with the German Democratic Republic's (GDR) standard biography in terms of a voluntary acceptance of West German patterns, or a modification of old patterns based on necessity. Results demonstrate that the historical moment of 1989/90 (the Wende or turning point) has changed the life plans of the three cohorts of women in East Germany in different ways, depending on its timing in their life course. The life patterns of the youngest cohort differ most significantly from the standard biography of the “GDR woman” in that family formation is postponed and employment prioritized over family. Rather than being a complete break with tradition and a voluntary adoption of Western norms, this means a modification of the life course, because the desire to combine work and family continues to dominate.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 13, 2004
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