Farewell to the middle class - the precarious society

An Arte theme evening by Valentin Thurn and Karin de Miguel-Wessendorf
On behalf of RBB

Around one third of all employees in Europe live in insecurity. Although they have jobs, sometimes even several jobs at the same time, they barely make ends meet. They form a new social class that economists call the "precariat." The growing fear of poverty leads to a feeling of social exclusion and also to doubts about democracy, as a result of which populist parties are gaining more support.

It is not only in Germany or France that the gap between rich and poor is growing. Even in Sweden, which is still considered a "social paradise" by many, the social gap is widening. One in five pensioners there lives below the poverty line, and women are particularly affected. In Spain, more than half of those under 30 are in precarious employment. 

"The precariat always lives hard on the edge of debt. One mistake, one illness at the wrong time, one accident, or something happens to a family member, that can mean the end," says British economist Guy Standing.

What is the explosiveness of the new class of the precariat? What about Europe's social peace? What opportunities and challenges are associated with the idea of a basic income? How could the great insecurity and polarization of the political system be counteracted?

Karin de Miguel Wessendorf and Valentin Thurn trace these questions in the documentary "Farewell to the Middle Class - The Precarious Society" and accompany young and old people from different European countries in their everyday life in the "precariat".

Editing: Christian von Behr (RBB)

First broadcast:
February 4, 2020, 20.15, ARTE

Repetition:
February 21, 2020, 09:30, ARTE

Here you can watch the documentary for free on Youtube.