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An Era of Value Change

The Seventies in Europe


14–16 March 2019

Conveners: Dr Fiammetta Balestracci (Queen Mary University London), Prof Martin Baumeister (GHI Rome), Prof Christina von Hodenberg (GHI London)
Venue: German Historical Institute London
Funded by DFG Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie Programme, German Historical Institute Rome and German Historical Institute London.


In the historiography of many European countries, the 1970s are seen as a caesura. They have been claimed as a period of swift cultural transformation and structural change, as the turning point from post war society to a world “after the boom” characterised by the crisis of high industrial society. This was the time when the post-war emphasis on reconstruction and economic growth faded, and our current world began to take shape. The historians Eric Hobsbawm and Arthur Marwick speak of a “cultural revolution” in order to underline the importance of the cultural change, while political scientists such as Ronald Inglehart have posited a “silent revolution” and the birth of “post-materialist society”, describing the ethical re-orientation of citizens as value change towards individual self-realization instead of the acquisition of material goods.

The value change of the Seventies was a transnational phenomenon, caused by local, national and global factors. In the different countries and regions of Europe these factors combined in specific ways to produce nationally specific profiles of cultural change, social restructuring and political democratisation. We want to explore international similarities, national peculiarities and transnational connections, as well as variations in timing, in regard to value changes in different sectors and countries. Depending on local timing, we take the “long Seventies” to begin sometime in the 1960s and end, at the latest, by the early 1980s. The aim of the conference is to compare processes of change across different European countries. These changes transcended the political divisions of the Cold War, and between the Northern democratic states and the Southern dictatorial regimes of Europe. While we understand the Seventies as a turning point of contemporary history, we wish to locate the decade within the continuum of Twentieth Century History.


Conference programme (PDF file)

Conference report (PDF file), published in: GHIL Bulletin 41 (2019), Vol 2