Deindustrialization and Gender. Industrial Work, Family Structures, and Gender Identities

Employees (IfZ):   Helena Schwinghammer

Helena Schwinghammer’s dissertation is based on the thesis that women were more strongly affected by the transformation processes, that deindustrialization set in motion, than men, that individualization and retraditionalization went hand in hand and overlapped with precarization phenomena. The project combines these fields of research, investigates the driving forces behind the transformation of gender identities in working-class milieus, and uses an intersectional approach to explore the significance of work in relation to other factors that shaped identity.

The project examines the problem from the early 1970s until the financial crisis of 2008 in a micro-historical approach using the example of the Bavarian-Saxon Vogtland. Thus, one of the most important rural-medium-urban regions in the Federal Republic of Germany comes into view, which experienced a strong de-industrialization push without losing its industrial character and in which a predominantly female industry dominated. In this way, the transformation of gender relations can be analyzed in terms of German-German comparisons and interrelationships. Moreover, while the deindustrialization process of the textile industry in the West extended over decades, the East German textile industry collapsed abruptly after 1989/90 and overlapped with economic change and the system transformation.

The project integrates the work with archival sources and the analysis of serial socio-economic datasets from the SOEP. By combining digital and classical hermeneutics, the project functions as a pilot social historical study for recent contemporary history.

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