An Era of Value Change. The Seventies in Europe

An Era of Value Change. The Seventies in Europe

German Historical Institute of London
United Kingdom
Vom - Bis
14.03.2019 - 16.03.2019
Fiammetta Balestracci

In Western historiography the Seventies are generally considered as a turning point in European history. In Germany they currently tend to be seen as the starting point for the present times, “after the boom” of the Sixties, rather than an epoch in itself. In Italy the perception of political and economic crisis, exacerbated by the experience of terrorism, led to a widespread view of the Seventies as an era of "crisis", representing an analytical key for the history of Republican Italy and its failure. These interpretations focus mainly on political and macro-structural dynamics and reflect the national self-perceptions of the decade, determined by a retrospective view, teleological in nature, and the combined influences on Western historiography, following the initial canonization of the history of the decade, of sociology, the economy, and political science. In fact, during the Seventies and subsequent years some American and European scientists postulated the affirmation of the global society of individuals, with all its risks, and debated the combined crisis of democracy and legitimization of states under advanced capitalism. At the same time, some political scientists and sociologists (Ronald Inglehart, Carlo Tullio Altan, Helmuth Klages, etc.) regarded the crisis in the relationship between civil society and political society as the effect of a change in values in the individual views of citizens. They proposed that the features of the social and cultural transformations underway, and the crises in the systems of representation in individual states and in the traditional political forces, could all be traced back to this change.

The theory of an unprecedented change in values in industrialised Western Europe, recently taken up by German historiography as an explanation for the social and cultural changes of the Seventies, was a starting point for the hypothesis of this conference. The main objective will be to verify this initial hypothesis, which is whether and how, aside from national self-perceptions, the Seventies represented a moment of transformation and discontinuity in the history of European society, and with what national peculiarities this was manifested on the social, cultural, and political-institutional levels. There will be an attempt to assess whether it is possible to combine the diversity and even contradictions that have emerged in the studies of the scholars taking part into a coherent interpretation of European history, comparing events and processes, micro and macro history, national traits, and the experiences of different social groups, generations, and genders.


International Conference

An Era of Value Change. The Seventies in Europe

14-16 March 2019
German Historical Institute

Funded by
DFG Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
European Commission - Marie Skłodowska-Curie Programme
German Historical Institute Rome
German Historical Institute London

Thursday, 14 March 2019
13.30-14.00 h
Arrival and Registration
14.00-14.15 h
Welcome Christina von Hodenberg (London)
Martin Baumeister (Rome)

14.15-14.30 h
Fiammetta Balestracci (London)

14.45-16.30 h
Panel I: The Dwindling Value of the Future in the Long Seventies
Chair: Ulf Brunnbauer (Regensburg)

Emily Robinson (Sussex): Nostalgia for the Progressive Future: Political temporalities in 1970s Britain

Fernando Esposito (Tübingen): The Future and its Discontents. How the Transformation of the Future affected Historical and Political Thinking

Tobias Becker (London): When the Past Killed the Future. The 1970s “Nostalgia Wave”

Ekaterina Emeliantseva Koller (Zurich): Changes, Discourses, Practices in the Long Seventies: “Decline” Narratives and Rural Development in the Late Soviet Union

16.30-17.00 h
Tea & Coffee

17.00-18.30 h
Panel II: Expert Knowledge and the World’s Reconceptualization
Chair: Claudia Kraft (Vienna)

Pascal Germann (Bern): Toward the Quality of Life: The Social Indicators Movement and New Value Orientations in the 1970s

Norbert Goetz (Stockholm): Toward Expressive Humanitarianism: Biafra and the Emergencies of the 1970s

Martin Deuerlein (Tübingen): The Changing Value of the Nation State: Social Sciences and Global Interdependence in the 1970s

18.30-20.00 h
Wine Reception

Friday, 15 March 2019
9.30-11.15 h
Panel III: New Politics and Democratization
Chair: Gerd-Rainer Horn (Paris)

Johan van Merriënboer (Nijmegen): The Birth of Average Joe in the Progressive 1970s and its Impact on Dutch Politics and Culture

Corrado Tornimbeni (Bologna): Re-Shaping the Cold War Divide at Grassroots Level: The Italian Political System and the Solidarity Network for the Anti-Colonial Struggle in Mosambique (1962-1975)

Patricia Hertel (Basel): Holidays in a Dictatorship: Discussing Values in European Tourism to Spain, Portugal and Greece during the 1960s and 1970s

Effie Pedaliu (London): Region Building and Erecting Fences in the Mediterranean in the 1970s

11.15-11.45 h
Tea & Coffee

11.45-13.15 h
Panel IV: New Social Movements and Global Europe
Chair: Detlef Siegfried (Copenhagen)

Inbal Ofer (Tel Aviv): “Autogestión” and the Spanish Citizen’s Movement: An Initiative for a Different Kind of Democracy

Isabel Richter (Berkeley): Enlightenment as Indian Export Hit? Youth Cultures and New Religiosities in the Long Seventies

Martina Salvante (Warwick): Breaking Institutional and Societal Barriers: Disability Activists in Italy in the 1970s

Sandwich Lunch

14.15-15.45 h
Panel V: Rethinking Work
Chair: Christina von Hodenberg (London)

Bernhard Dietz (Mainz): The Rise of the Self-Actualisation Man: Value Change in West Germany’s Capitalist Culture in the Age of Protest

Florian Schui (St. Gallen): Working Hard for the Money: Work and Leisure in the 1970s

Christopher Neumaier (Potsdam): Women’s Choices Between Family and Work in East and West Germany, 1960s to 1980s

16.00-16.30 h
Tea & Coffee

16.30-18.00 h
Panel VI: Changing Families
Chair: Christopher Neumaier (Potsdam)

Lisa Dittrich (Munich): Historicizing Partnership and Individualization: A Grassroots Perspective on Value Change in Marriage in the GDR

Isabel Heinemann (Münster): Desperate Housewives, Determined Feminists, Triumphant Men? Divorce Reform and Transnational Value Change in Europe During the 1970s

Barbara Klich-Kluczewska (Krakow): The Experts’ Turn: The Sociopolitical Crisis and the Polish Family of the Seventies

18.15-19.30 h
Keynote Address
Chair: Christina von Hodenberg (London)

James Mark (Exeter): Lost between 1968 and 1989? Re-establishing the 1970s in Histories of Eastern Europe

20.00 h
Conference dinner

Saturday, 16 March 2019

9.15-11.00 h
Panel VII: Sexual Revolution?
Chair: Fiammetta Balestracci (London)

Jan-Henrik Friedrichs (Hildesheim): Sexual Liberation for Paedophiles? Child Sexuality, Paedophilia and Social Science in West Germany, 1967-1985

Roseanna Webster (Cambridge): The Politics of Sexuality and Reproduction in Anti-Francoist Activism

Aline Maldener (Saarbrücken): Juvenile Sexuality, Gender Roles and their Embodiment in European Youth Magazines of the 1960s and 1970s

Kristoff Kerl (Cologne): Ecstatic Bodies and Social Change: Sexuality and Psychedelic Drugs in West Germany During the 1970s

11.00-11.30 h
Tea & Coffee

11.30-13.30 h
Concluding Roundtable Discussion
Chair: Martin Baumeister (Rome)

Discussants: Fiammetta Balestracci (London), Gerd-Rainer Horn (Paris), Claudia Kraft (Vienna), Simone Neri Serneri (Firenze)

If you are interested in attending, please email by 8 March 2019:

Selection Committee: Fiammetta Balestracci (London), Martin Baumeister (Rome), Ulf Brunnbauer (Regenburg), Christina von Hodenberg (London), Gerd-Rainer Horn (Paris), Claudia Kraft (Vienna), Detlef Siegfried (Copenhagen)

Conveners: Fiammetta Balestracci (London), Martin Baumeister (Rome), Christina von Hodenberg (London)


Fiammetta Balestracci

Queen Mary University of London

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