History and society
The values we share, who we feel connected to, whether we think the world can change or not: all this depends on how we view the past.
No development has been inevitable.
There always have been and are a multitude of alternatives. Writing history thus also means illuminating forking paths in social development.
Which options were considered and which paths finally were taken has to do with how people assessed the conditions around them at any given time.
Thinking, feeling, and consequently acting, are based on experiences. Since people have such different experiences, they also think differently. What shapes them depends on social backgrounds, living and working conditions, gender, as well as life-changing experiences.
Invariably, it is the people themselves that make their own history, who must take their fate into their own hands.
History does both: it is daunting and makes you look small when it gives the impression that only the supposed “great ones”, the rich, princes, generals and statesmen are the ones to shape the way of the world. But when we encounter all the people that fought against oppression and exploitation and for a society of equality and freedom, history can also inspire courage and hope.
In this sense we understand our work as an active contribution to a democratic historic consciousness, as a crucial prerequisite for social participation.
The Institut für Historische Sozialforschung (Institute for Historic Social Studies) is a joint foundation of the Austrian Federation of Trade Unions and the Chamber of Labor.
Members of the board of directors: