Lutz Raphael

Beyond Coal and Steel - A Social History of Western Europe after the Boom

Frankfurt Adorno Lectures 2018 | With numerous illustrations
(German title: Jenseits von Kohle und Stahl)
ca. 525 pages
Lutz Raphael
Foto: Lutz Raphael
© Jürgen Bauer

Lutz Raphael, born in 1955, is Professor for New and Recent History at the University of Trier. He has also held guest professorships in Oxford and Paris, among others. He is a member of the Mainz Academy of Sciences and Literature as well as the Historical Commission in the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities. In 2013 he received the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz-Prize of the German Research Foundation.

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When the chimneys disappeared and the robots came

The prehistory of our post-industrial present


In the 1970s many western European states were gripped by unprecedented structural transformation: the factories of the old industries disappeared, millions of jobs were lost, previously booming cities were beset by crises, and new social questions determined the political agenda. But what happened to the proud industrial citizen – to his jobs, career path, and residential districts?

How did the social rights and political participation of workers change when competition went global, management was streamlined, and financial capitalism became dominant? Which ideas and ideologies accompanied the change?

Using the example of industrial work in Great Britain, France and the Federal Republic of Germany, Lutz Raphael recounts the incredibly complex and exciting history of western European de-industrialisation. Lasting three decades, it corresponded with an increase in productivity and living standards, but also brought low wages, growing inequality and a crisis of democratic representation in its wake. And perhaps the most important point: It has carried on until today – as the pre-history to our post-industrial present. This book helps us understand it all.


»Raphael professes the relevance of his subject with the fact that the traces of the workers‘ struggles in the 1970s and 1980s directly led to the political protest movements and right-wing mobilisation in today’s Western Europe. This fact is one of the reasons for why his historical study is so relevant for late capitalism.« Jenny Hestermann, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

»Supported by an entire research apparatus, Raphael has followed an interesting, imaginative approach: He did not simply, as is usually the case with social historians, analyse databanks [...] he sought out vistas both near and far, by depicting individual life stories as well as trends in countries, paradigmatic regions and even individual businesses [...] « Werner von Bebber, Der Tagesspiegel

»Raphael himself offers us an example in humility that happily keeps contemporary ringtones (›neoliberalism‹) on low [...] Were there still such a thing as an intellectually alert social democracy, this would have to be its book.« Gustav Seibt, Süddeutsche Zeitung

»In his readable study Beyond Coal and Steel historian Lutz Raphael examines how fundamentally [saying goodbye to the Industrial Age] has changed all of society, as well as the political landscape.« Nils Minkmar, Literaturspiegel

»Raphael gathers together facts and numbers. He offers insights into the realities of those affected. And he makes a connection between the decline of working-class culture and new relationships of political power.« Neue Zürcher Zeitung

»His book is a social history of industrial labour—gripping, knowledgeable, intelligent.« DIE ZEIT

»Top-notch historical clarifications« taz. die tageszeitung