After studying sociology, economics and philosophy at the University of Cologne and at the Free University of Berlin, he earned a diploma in sociology in 1965. As a student he was a member of SDS and co-author of the SDS- memorandum "University in a Democracy " (1961).
From 1965 to 1969 he was an assistant at the department of sociology at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt with Jürgen Habermas. He was rer 1968 with the work " performance principle and industrial work " Dr.. pol. doctorate and habilitation in 1973 at the Department of Political Science at the University of Konstanz.
Offe worked as a professor of political science and sociology from 1975 to 1988 at the University of Bielefeld and from 1988 to 1995 at the University of Bremen. In Bremen, he was also head of the Department of Theory and constitution of the welfare state at the Center for Social Policy. From 1995 until his retirement in 2005, he was Professor of Political Sociology and Social Policy at the Humboldt University in Berlin. From 2005 to 2012 he belonged to the Professorium the Hertie School of Governance, Berlin.
Offe had got involved in the student movement and was both a founding member of the Basic Income European Network ( now Basic Income Earth Network) and the Green Party.
Offe has become ever popular Marxist, but was also the time the student revolt attributable to the non-dogmatic wing of the student movement. He is expected to successor generation of the Frankfurt School and has practiced with Habermas a division of labor, in which Habermas 's philosophical and wide-ranging social theoretical questions, Offe has taken over the political and sociological aspects. Offe has new ideas, just out of American sociology, and picked up for German sociology made fruitful, such as the concept of " horizontal disparities ." He was a doctor father of a number of political scientists and sociologists, inter alia, by Wolfgang Streeck, Helmut Wiesenthal, Peter A. Kraus, Wolfgang Merkel and Benjamin Hoff Immanuel.
Offe 2012 was awarded by the German Association of Political Science, Theodor Eschenburg price. He took part in the price, but criticized the naming for the price. The namesake Theodor Eschenburg had never sufficiently distanced lifetime of his actions under the Nazi regime, in which he was probably more deeply involved than expected.
He is a valiant defender of the basic income. Volunteering, he is the scientific advisory board of the network basic income is active, the Basic Income Earth Network - Germany (see also BIEN ). His book Structural problems of the capitalist state in 1972, the ' theses was marked and well Habermas Habermas -influenced studies, was considered at the time of the student movement as essential reading.
Since 2001, he is married to the civil rights activist Ulrike Poppe.
Writings (selection )
- Merit and industrial work. Mechanisms of state distribution in the industrial labor organizations " meritocracy ". Frankfurt / M.: European Publishing House, 1970
- Structural problems of the capitalist state. Essays on political sociology. Frankfurt / Main: Suhrkamp, 1973
- ( with others) working society. Structural problems and future prospects. Frankfurt / Main: Campus, 1984
- The tunnel at the end of the light. Explorations of the political transformation in the New East. Frankfurt / Main: Campus, 1994
- Full employment? For a critique of a false question asked, in: Karlheinz Bentele, Bernd Reissert, Ronald Schettkat (ed.), The capacity for reform of industrial societies. Festschrift for Fritz W. Scharpf, Frankfurt: Campus 1995, pp. 240-249
- (together with Susanne Angerhausen Holger Backhaus - Maul, Thomas Olk and Martina Schiebel ), overtaking without asking. Free welfare in East Germany. Opladen, 1998
- Challenges of democracy. For the integration and effectiveness of political institutions. Frankfurt / Main, 2004
- Even viewed from a distance. Tocqueville, Weber and Adorno in the United States. Frankfurt / Main, 2004
- Structural problems of the capitalist state: essays on political sociology, altered edition, ed. by Jens Borchert / Stephan Lessenich, Frankfurt / Main, 2006
- Gesine Schwan. Why do they spare the left?, In the FAZ of 24 July 2008
- Gerd Grözinger, Michael Maschke, Claus Offe: The participatory society. For a new social contract with prospects for the future (PDF document, 44 kB)
- "That is poison for democracy", interview in the taz of 20 May 2005
- " The liberalization was enormous," interview in the taz on 13 September 2005
- "Are you indoors, or are you out there ... that is the question ," conversation with Heinz Bude in the Frankfurter Rundschau on 19 March 2008