Trade Unions in Western Europe Handbook now online

Trade Unions in Western Europe

As part of the Handbook Series “The Societies of Europe”, the volume Trade Unions in Western Europe since 1945 by Bernhard Ebbinghaus and Jelle Visser has become a major source for scholars studying the history of postwar trade unionism in Western Europe with over 800 google scholar citations today. This 800 page handbook maps the variations in union organization and membership in fifteen Western European economies. Its  country chapters provide introductory profiles, chronologies, cross-sectional and time-series tables, as well as comparative indicators on union density and organizational patterns of major trade unions and their confederations. Initially published as a handbook by Macmillan in 2000, the introductory, comparative and country chapters are now available as part of Palgrave History Collection with Springer Link.



Visiting Mercator Fellow at University of Mannheim


Professor Bernhard Ebbinghaus has been awarded a Mercator Fellowship for  cooperative research at the University of Mannheim by the Mercator Foundation and German Research Foundation (DFG).  Over the next four years (2018-21) Prof Ebbinghaus will cooperate with Prof Katja Möhring and Dr Elias Naumann in the research project A6 “Welfare State Reform Support from Below” in the Collaborative Research Centre (SFB 884) Political Economy of Reform at University of Mannheim. Prof Ebbinghaus had been Principal Investigator for the project A6 during the first two periods of the SFB 884 (2010-17), the main results were published in a volume edited by Ebbinghaus and Naumann “Welfare State Reforms Seen from Below” with Palgrave Macmillan/Springer in 2018.

Welfare State Reform Project Book Published


Bernhard Ebbinghaus & Elias Naumann (eds.) Welfare State Reforms Seen from Below: Comparing Public Attitudes and Organized Interests in Britain and Germany. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018 (hard cover); Springer Online (e-book).

Studying the political economy of welfare state reform, this edited collection focuses on the role of public opinion and organized interests in respect to policy change. It highlights that welfare states are hard pressed to reform in order to cope with ongoing socio-economic and demographic challenges. While public opinion is commonly seen to oppose welfare cuts and organized interests such as trade unions have tended to defend acquired social rights, this book shows that there have been emergent tendencies in favour of reform. Welfare State Reforms Seen from Below analyses a wide range of social policies affecting healthcare, pensions and the labour market to demonstrate how social groups and interest organizations differ and interact in their approaches to reform. Comparing Britain and Germany, with its two very different welfare states, it provides a European perspective on the changing approaches to welfare.
PDF-Download of Introduction: Chapter 1 (Introduction)


More information on the project Welfare State Reforms from Below as part of the collaborative research centre (SFB 884) “Political Economy of Reform” at University of Mannheim:

Head of Department

The start of this new academic year brings a new Head of the Department of Social Policy and Intervention. Professor Bernhard Ebbinghaus arrived in Oxford to take up his post as Professor of Social Policy in January 2017, and now brings his experience as past director of the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research to DSPI. At yesterday’s General Meeting of the Department, Professor Ebbinghaus took the opportunity to thank Dr Rebecca Surender, who has ably led DSPI over the past two years. Dr Surender, who is taking a sabbatical leave from the Department this year, is also the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Advocate for Equality and Diversity.

Professor Ebbinghaus commented: “It will be my pleasure to serve as new Head of Department for the next three years, to continue the Barnett House tradition, and to support our excellence in teaching and research, interdisciplinary exchange, policy-relevant social research, and international outlook.

You can find out more about the people in leadership at DSPI here

Public lecture on old age inequalities

Starting his new position as Professor of Social Policy at University of Oxford, Bernhard Ebbinghaus gives a public lecture in the seminar series of the Department of Social Policy and Intervention on:

Hilary Term, Week 1, Thursday 19 January 2017, 5 p.m.

Bernhard Ebbinghaus:
Pension marketization and old age inequalities: from old to new social risks?

Comparative Social Policy and Inequality Seminar Series- Hilary Term 2017

All lectures are from 17:00 – 18:30, including an opportunity for questions and discussion, and will each be held in the Violet Butler Room at Barnett House. Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford.

Op-Ed: Ebbinghaus on pension reforms

Confidence always forms the basis for a successful transition

Despite the fact that confidence in pension funds, government actors, and social partners is under pressure, it remains the foundation for the pension systems in the Netherlands and Germany. ‘Implementing change is only possible once consensus has been reached,’ says German sociologist Bernhard Ebbinghaus. (…)

Read more on this topic inNetspar Magazine No. 20 / 2016

Netspar, the Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a Dutch ‘think tank’ and knowledge network based at University of Tilburg:

Interview (in German) on pension reforms in Germany and Europe

Armes Deutschland? Der Mannheimer Soziologie-Professor Bernhard Ebbinghaus im Interview über die Grenzen unseres Rentensystems, steigende Altersarmut – und Lösungen. Bestzeit Plus, November 2016.