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The Research Unit “Social History since 1750” places social change at the centre of its analyses and relates history to contemporary society. Social history calls for a pre-eminently integrated approach that aims to interconnect circumstances, structures and processes with human agency and experiences, discourse and perception, ideas and practices. Social history transcends history in compartments -  economy, politics,  culture  - and aims at historical synthesis and interdisciplinarity.

Our research unit studies the nineteenth and twentieth century. How did the long nineteenth century result in the ‘age of catastrophe’, despite of its optimism over progress and characteristic emancipatory movements? The impact of both World Wars is assessed against the double question of how people deal with dramatic social change and how the (painful) past affects the present.

In geographical terms, the research unit “Social History since 1750” focuses mainly, but not exclusively on European history, going beyond the framework of the nation state through a transnational perspective. Our research unit’s members study a broad variety of topics, structured along four research lines. They use and combine different methodologies, including discourse analysis, oral history, field research, network analysis, comparative research and entangled history. Meta-history and empirical research cross-fertilize each other.     

Research programmes

  • Movements, protest and contention
  • War, crisis and society
  • Meta history and public history

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