The Social Consequences of the Changing Working World in the Second Half of the 20th Century


Life in modern societies is defined at its core by the type of work pursued. In the second half of the 20th century, however, the working world changed fundamentally. While it was the effects of the war and the new political framework that brought about change at first, change was later driven by technological and economic factors such as digitalization and automatization, globalization and the massive expansion of the service sector. What social consequences did these processes of change have in general and for working people in particular?

The graduate seminar “Social Consequences of the Changing Working World in the Second Half of the 20th Century”, supported by the Hans Böckler Foundation, researches its topic from an empirical historical approach.

The main focus lies here in the effects on working places, forms of new social inequality, and trade union efforts. The seminar connects the historical analysis of palpable processes of change and specific actions within the political and workplace arenas with perception and interpretation. The history of work can thus be embedded in the post-war history of culture and society.

This doctoral seminar is supported by the Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History in Munich (Andreas Wirsching), the Center for Contemporary History in Potsdam (Frank Bösch, speaker, and Winfried Süß), and the Institute for Social Movements in Bochum (Stefan Berger). The coordinator is Sebastian Voigt. The three locations involved have different areas of focus: The Munich-based group chiefly researches the effects on social constellations within the working world resulting from the shift in work sectors and changing production and distribution practices.

The following subprojects are part of the project:

The project website can be found at

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