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Is ‘the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ a Kind of German-style Capitalist Model?

  • Journal of Humanities
  • 2018, (68), pp.33-60
  • DOI : 10.31310/HUM.068.02
  • Publisher : Institute for Humanities
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : January 24, 2018
  • Accepted : February 8, 2018
  • Published : February 28, 2018

jinil LEE 1

1성균관대학교 동아시아역사연구소

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Is there any reason why Germany, which had hitherto been suffering from high unemployment and serious fiscal deficits and consequently was called ‘a sick man of Europe’ until the early 2000s, has been favorably evaluated as the growth engine of Europe within 15 years? In what process have “Industrie 4.0” ― discussed as the trailblazer of the "Fourth Industrial Revolution" today ― and “Arbeiten 4.0,” labor’s response to it, become the issues of public debate in society and what would be the meaning of the phenomena we can deduce from the process? If Industrie 4.0 is Germany’s response to a global market strategy dominated by the U.S. companies in the process of globalization, Arbeiten 4.0 is German labor’s response to the problems related to Industrie 4.0. The process of Arbeiten 4.0 was led by Andreas Nahles, German Minister of Labor and Welfare in 2015. In April 2015, <Arbeiten 4.0 - Green Paper> was presented for the first time. After about 20 months of conferences, professional and citizen-led dialogues, meetings and ending conferences, <Arbeiten 4.0 - White Paper> was published in March 2017. The result was favorably received by not only the labor sector but also German society in general, and served as an important milestone in the road to digital information society and as an important complement to Industrie 4.0. Nevertheless, it should be questioned whether all these developments in Germany, their plans for the future, and their responses to the coming society be seen as ‘a kind of German-style capitalist model’? The immediate answer is negative. Rather, we can find in this process democratic and human-centered thinking, universal humanism of cherishing human dignity and labor, which is embedded in these German plans. The industrial and labor structures within the Industrie 4.0 and Arbeiten 4.0 are decentralized and autonomous and pursues a horizontal network structure that respects diversity and a consensus. It is no coincidence that this structure coincided with the structure of the Fourth Industrial Revolution or the digital information society of the future.

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