Industrial Worlds at a Crossroads: The Changes in Work and Working Practices in the Ruhr Steel Industry, 1960-1987


This dissertation project researches the changes in the steel industry in Germany’s Ruhr District since the mid-1960s. The study begins with the first shocks to the German economy in 1966/67. The return of symptoms of economic crisis reinforced the already ongoing efforts towards rationalization, modernization, and concentration within the steel industry, which would fundamentally change in the years and decades to come.

The study centers on the workplace negotiation processes that came alongside the changes in the steel industry, as well as attempts at providing a social safety net for the consequences of the changes, which for many workers entailed retraining measures, losing their jobs, or early retirement. In the Ruhr District in particular these processes were part of a general regional crisis. The diversification of the steel industry and the emergence of new business areas and jobs all occurred outside the region, to a great extent, so that the development of the Ruhr steel companies took a different trajectory than the region itself.

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