Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - Institute of Asian and African Studies



Financialized Adulthood in Germany
Project leader:
Dr. Hadas Weiss
Funding institution: Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft
Funding period: 09/2020 – 08/2023

My project tackles the mismatch between the normative organization of the life course as a smooth transition from school through lifelong employment along a career ladder to comfortable retirement, with contemporary lives in Germany and beyond. This mismatch is most conspicuous in the tensions surrounding adulthood. Prolonged adolescence and concerns about aging cast doubt on the erstwhile view of adulthood as life’s pinnacle and on the values traditionally associated with it like commitment, responsibility and hard work. I aim to make sense of this through the lens of financialization. Drawing on fieldwork in Germany, I plan to trace guiding notions about one’s role in society as an adult to the saving, investing and insurance practices in which they are anchored, encouraging specific ways of placing one’s money in circulation. 

The objectives of this project are to (1) make explicit the expectations about adulthood and challenges to it in Germany as implied in lifecycle financing; (2) examine how these expectations line up with specific practices that are associated with or challenge common understandings of adulthood; (3) show how these understandings, expectations and practices guide the circulation of household capital; and (4) through the lens of adulthood as enacted in Germany, offer a better understanding of financialization’s deepest and most personal grip on the societies it is reshaping.