How is it as a working child – and is the social background still relevant today? Many users are currently discussing this on social networks. They tell under the hashtag #Arbeiterkind of their own experiences, formative experiences and pose the question of how structural problems in society can be tackled.
The debate has also appeared through a recent one NEON-Article triggered: "Eight things you experience as a worker child". In the text, our author listed various situations that many people who grew up outside of the academic milieu are familiar with.
Political consultant and author Erik Flügge, for example, called the article "terrifyingly true" and reported his own experiences on Twitter: "I can list each restaurant visit in my childhood individually with the place, occasion and the food I was given. The only academics I had ever spoken to before my studies were a priest, my teachers, a church youth officer, two family doctors, a dentist and three neighbors. "
Worker children: Many experiences are similar
Other users also report experiences from their childhood in the workers' household and how they shaped them. "Driving a taxi / Uber still feels absolutely luxurious today," says a journalist today. "There were only books in the library that I always went to alone." A user reports that he only dared to go to university after he had successfully completed an apprenticeship. A user remembers the holidays with her family: "Exactly twice (…), once on the North Sea and once in the Harz Mountains."
So there are obviously points where the biographies of people who grew up in working-class families are similar. They are particularly pronounced among the so-called educational advancers – people whose parents, for example, practice craft professions, but who study themselves and thus get more contact with the academic milieu until they are even part of it. Many report that it was difficult to start studying. Not necessarily because of the learning material, but because it was a completely new world for which they had not been prepared. And because many people here realized for the first time how what they took for granted from their families was different from other people.
Childhood as a working child is "a good school"
The reactions to the text, however, were quite varied: in comments and emails, readers also criticized, some even found the text to be "discriminatory", "condescending" or "insulting" towards working class children and their parents. Of course, that was never the intention. Our author – himself a child of a worker – not only wrote down his own experiences, but also processed many conversations and stories. And of course some of the points were also pointed. No life is only told through a single attribution. There are many other factors in which the working worlds of working children also differ from one another: for example, due to a possible migration background, the circle of friends, support at school, older siblings or contact with academics in the social environment.
Childhood in the working class family was "a good school for life," commented one reader. Studying is also no guarantee of happiness. Of course that is correct. That is why the social background has to be seen first of all without value: children who grow up in working and academic families have different experiences that shape the general view of life, but also some small habits – sometimes even across generations, if their own socio-economic Status has long changed. One is no better than the other.
Has the climb become easier?
And so the idiosyncrasies, which are sometimes seen as disadvantages for working children (or for which working children at least have this feeling) are by no means harmful. Through their origins, they have experiences that give them a different view of the circumstances that others find completely normal – because they have never known anything else. Or as the user "Müller" puts it on Twitter: "In my experience, being a child has an invaluable advantage: you know that nothing can be taken for granted. And that the most important cog is rarely the one that shines particularly well."
It cannot be disputed that the differences are there, be it financially, in formal education or in habitus. People whose parents have no academic background have a harder time in the education system, they are often denied access to certain circles – and even if they make the leap, many will feel like they are not one hundred percent for a lifetime. They often lack the so-called "social capital", i.e. certain manners, networks or knowledge. The controversial discussion about the topic also shows that these differences have become smaller in the past decades. Nevertheless, the problem of a lack of equal opportunities remains an issue. Mario Thurnes sums it up in a tweet: "The most exciting thing about the #Arbeiterkind debate is whether it has become easier to get up. I say: No. And that's a topic that is very urgent in politics and the media belongs on the agenda. "