Labour History News
Changes in Social Regulation – State, Economy, and Social Protagonists since the 1970s
Call for Contributions
Scholars of contemporary history widely agree that the 1970s can be considered as a decade of upheaval. However, a precise characterization is difficult. Scholars speak of a “silent revolution”, or a “soft turning point” which took place – at least in Europe –, then one find terms like “structural rupture”  or the “shock of the global”  to analyze this period. Contemporary diagnoses spoke likewise of a deep change, even though it was hard to identify the old and the coming new. Some scholars forecast the “post-industrial society”, others the entry into “post-modernity”, and third group analyzed the new era as “risk society” . Also terms such as neo-liberalism or concepts like “post-democracy”, both criticize our present from a political point of view and are diffuse as far as they are not able to characterize periods “in their own rights” but use “pre”, “post” or “neo” for their deliberations.
It is not only difficult to characterize the 1970s but also to determine dates. Firstly, there is no distinctive event which reduces the 1970s to a common denominator (like 1914/18, 1945 or 1989). Secondly, it is questionable whether the 1970s in fact possess specific characteristics or whether a “decalogical approach” is actually more misleading than helpful. The majority of historians argue that the first oil crisis and the collapse of the “Bretton Woods system” in 1973 can be used as the date when a deep structural break marked the end of a “golden age” and the prolonged post-war boom. Eric Hobsbawm pronounces it distinctly: „The history of the twenty years after 1973 is that of a world which lost its bearings and slid into instability and crisis.“ 
In our collection “Changes in Social Regulation”, we ask for changes in political, economic, and social regulations as well as self-interpretations since the 1970s which shape our present. How far have the following contemporary phenomena their origins in the 1970s: rising social inequality in the economic centres of the world (crisis of the welfare state), withdrawal of the state from public services (privatization), economization of political thinking (neo-liberalism), deep structural transformations of social classes and milieus (crisis of labour movement), or the individualization and pluralisation of lifestyle? Can these phenomena be regarded as results of a transformation process which started in the 1970s or does historiography have to “dig deeper”?
By means of the terms privatization versus statehood and deregulation versus regulation, the “prehistory of our present” (Hans-Günther Hockerts) will be analysed in the four fields of discourses/self-interpretations, state/politics, economy, and social movements. On the basis of deregulating/regulating or state/private practices, the thesis of the 1970s as a decade of upheaval will critically be examined.
For a critical examination, three questions are central:
1) Are the processes described above consistent and unbroken trends or can we ascertain contrary trends to more statehood, unification and standardization, regulation, and de-liberalization?
2) Is it possible to generalize these transformations and upheavals from an international perspective? May we speak of an international trend of (neo)-liberalization or do we rather have to consider specific national cultures in politics and economics which have shaped our present?
3) Which periodisation (chronological periods) for this change we do have to assume? Has the break of 1989/91 a specific relevance, has the end of the East-West-conflict accelerated or even counteracted these processes? How far has the break of 1989/91 determined our interpretation and analyses and hidden ongoing processes since the 1970s?
These three central questions are to be examined from an international and comparative perspective. We call for contributions which analyse the generalising theses about the 1970s by empirical and source based case studies. The question for the 1970s’ character implicates research which focuses on breaking points within the decade as well as research which asks for the before and the after. Geographically, North-America and Europe is in the centre of our call. We explicitly request comparative East-West-studies and papers on international institutions.
We call for contributions in the following fields and with the temporal focus from the 1960s to the 1990s.
1. Discourses and self-interpretations
Regarding the present, the spreading of market ideology on almost public and private areas of life seems to be meaningful. Affected by this are, for example, sectors like local authority budgets where it was unthinkable to regulate these by market competition forty years ago. The contributions shall highlight discourses on deregulation and denationalization as well as networks in academics and politics.
The contributions address the change of social rules, patterns, and structures on branch/industrial and corporate level. One leading question is whether the 1970s were also a period of structural breaks and global crisis for economic sectors and companies and which tendencies of deregulation/regulation we can observe. In particular, we call for case studies on changes in business organization and labour organization.
Privatization and deregulation are also part of the political field: In the ways that, for example, that political expertise and decisions are displaced to boards which are not controlled by parliament or even the establishment of so called governments of experts. The contributions shall ask for changes in political regulation since the 1970s. In particular papers are requested on exemplary political fields (e.g. education policy, policy of local administration), comparative research on national politics and analyses of political organisations and institutions (government institutions as well as NGOs).
4. Social protagonists
The 1970s mark the crisis of the old social movements (labour and trade union movement) and the rise of the new social movements (women, ecology, peace). The contributions ask for structural change of social and political protagonists (movements, organisations, initiatives, parties, trade unions) in relation to changing social structures. The contributions analyse the effects of these social protagonists on the transformation processes in and since the 1970s as well as the interpretation of these processes by the protagonists.
Please send abstracts of 500 words and a short CV by 15 October 2012. The English papers of 5-7.000 words are expected by 15 February 2013. Enquiries or suggestions by the editors are revised by 15 June 2013. We will be publishing the book in 2014 in a British or American publishing house. Note to non-native-speakers: The editors will carry out proofreading.
Dr. Knud Andresen (andresen [at] zeitgeschichte-hamburg.de)
Forschungsstelle für Zeitgeschichte in Hamburg, Deutschland
Dr. Stefan Müller (stefan.mueller.300 [at] uni-due.de)
Historisches Institut, Universität Duisburg-Essen, Deutschland
Ralf Richter (ralf-richter [at] boeckler.de)
Hans-Böckler-Stiftung, Düsseldorf, Deutschland.
 Hartmut Kaelble, The 1970s in Europe. A Period of Disillusionment or Promise? (German Historical Institute London, The 2009 Annual Lecture, 2010), p. 18.
 Anselm Doering-Manteuffel and Lutz Raphael, Nach dem Boom. Perspektiven auf die Zeitgeschichte seit 1970 (Göttingen 2008).
 Niall Ferguson, ‘Crisis, What Crisis? The 1970s and the Shock of the Global’, in Niall Ferguson (ed.), The Shock of the Global. The 1970s in perspective (Cambridge/Mass. 2010), p. 1–21.
 Daniel Bell, The Coming of Post-Industrial Society (New York 1973).
 Jean-Francois Lyotard, La condition postmoderne. Rapport sur le savoir (Paris 1979); engl.: The postmodern condition. A report on knowledge (University of Minnesota Press 1984).
 Ulrich Beck, Risikogesellschaft. Auf dem Weg in eine andere Moderne (Frankfurt am Main 1986); engl.: Risk Society. Towards a New Modernity (Sage Publications 1992).
 Colin Crouch, Post-democracy (Cambridge 2005).
 For such a critique see Ruediger Graf’s review of Niall Ferguson’s “Shock of the global” in H-Soz-u-Kult, 15.07.2011.www.hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin.de/rezensionen/2011-3-039.
 Eric Hobsbawm, Age of Extremes. The Short Twentieth Century. 1914-1991 (London 1994), p. 403. Frank Boesch suggest to focus on the year 1979 with its Soviet invasion to Afghanistan, the NATO double track decision, and the second oil crisis: Frank Bösch, ‚Umbrüche in die Gegenwart. Globale Ereignisse und Krisenreaktionen um 1979‘, Zeithistorische Forschungen/Studies in Contemporary History, Online-Ausgabe, 9, 1 (2012) URL: http://www.zeithistorische-forschungen.de/16126041-Boesch-1-2012.
[Cross-posted, with thanks, from H-Labor]