CfP: Perspectives on Workers’ Education at the ELHN-WORCK Conference 2021

Call for papers, deadline 15 September 2020

Call for papers for the ELHN Working Group Workers’ Education at the European Labour History Network’s Conference, 30 August–3 September 2021 in Vienna

During the 20th century, education became an integral part of most labor movements, organized and practiced in almost every country across the globe. With few exceptions, all labor movements have arranged some kind of workers’ education. The structure and purpose of workers’ education have differed between countries and a range of different study activities have been practiced such as labor colleges, peoples’ high schools, study circles, lectures, and correspondence courses. The educational settings also served several purposes; in some countries, such as the Nordic countries, workers’ education pronounced the enlightenment of the working class. In these countries, raising the cultural awareness of workers became important. More commonly, workers’ education was a way for the labor movement to compensate for the low formal education among the workers, especially in countries where the university extension movement was strong, such as the UK. Here, workers’ education became a bridge to formal higher education and, thus, enabled upward class mobility. Last but not least, workers’ education has constituted the institutions in which the political schooling of the working class took place. Education arranged by the labor movement aimed to ensure that all members had sufficient skills to run the organizations and to represent labor parties in parliamentarian institutions as well as being well‐versed in ideology.

In these sessions, we aim to analyze the cultural and political meaning of workers’ education in different countries. We welcome contributions from various disciplines, case studies as well as comparative studies. We encourage papers that focus on how different labor movement organizations arranged workers’ education (such as educational practices, teaching methods etc.), the implications of workers’ education for the individual worker, for trade unions or for political parties (such as social mobility, mobilization, and class formation), the scope of workers’ education in different countries, or analyses of what was taught in these educational settings. We especially encourage papers that focus on the students and their experiences and perceptions of these study activities.

Please send abstracts and a short bio to the group coordinator Jenny Jansson ( by 15 September 2020.