Non-state law of the economy. The normative order of industrial relations in the metal industry from the Empire to the early years of the Federal Republic of Germany
The project reconstructs the normative world of industrial relations in the metal industry, one of the most important German economic sectors of the 19th and 20th centuries. On the basis of a systematic inventory of sources, the development of norms, standards and regulations in this economic sector, which formed a semi-autonomous field, will be investigated. The project proceeds from the hypothesis that sector-specific normative arrangements emerged which were shaped by the stakeholders’ economic and socio-political ideas. These arrangements either supplemented state law or further elaborated its provisions, and in some cases even anticipated it.
A key part of the project is the creation of a digital edition of primary sources that will reflect the diversity of norms and regulations, including agreements such as internal work regulations (Fabrikordnungen, Arbeitsordnungen) or company regulations with socio-political relevance (eg relating to company health or pension insurance) as well as rental contracts of company flats. Furthermore, the project explores the variety of collective bargaining agreements, as well as individual agreements between employers and employees, as shown in the example of an apprenticeship contract between the company Wilhelm Marell, Tachometerwerk Leipzig, and its future apprentice Paul Schubert from 1914.
To create the digital edition, we collect the sources in various archives and then optimise them for computer-assisted processing. We work with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software and subsequently manually edit handwritten entries and deletions (as illustrated in Fig. 2). The material is then categorised using selected terms (tags) to enable detailed source analysis.
The aim of making these currently dispersed and not easily available materials accessible in a single collection is to provide a basis for further research by legal, economic and social historians. This interdisciplinary project, which began in November 2019, explores the subject both from a legal-historical and a social-historical perspective.
Part of the project is a habilitation and two dissertations on the following topics:
Johanna Wolf: Normative order in the workplace. The development of work regulations (Arbeitsordnungen) from the Empire to the early years of the Federal Republic of Germany
Matthias Ebbertz: Workplace community versus class struggle. The ideal of low-conflict self-regulation in the Weimar Republic
Tim-Niklas Vesper: Regulation, normativity and organisation of corporate social policy. An interregional study of the German metal industry 1871–1932
The project is funded by the Hans Böckler Foundation, the Association of the Metal and Electrical Industry NRW e.V. and the German Economic Institute, Cologne. Moreover, we are cooperating with the Hugo-Sinzheimer-Institute primarily within the context of the 'Initiative History of Labour Law'.
The project is supported by an advisory board consisting of the following members: Prof Dr Astrid Wallrabenstein (Goethe University Frankfurt/Federal Constitutional Court) (Chair of the Advisory Board); Prof Dr Boris Gehlen (University of Stuttgart); Prof Dr Thorsten Keiser (University of Gießen); Prof Dr Michael Kittner (Hugo Sinzheimer Institute, Frankfurt); Prof Dr Nina Kleinöder (University of Bamberg); Dr Hagen Lesch (Institute of the German Economy, Cologne); Dr Luitwin Mallmann (Association of the Metal and Electrical Industry NRW e.V., Duesseldorf).
Image: Differdingen steelworks, the Thomas converters.