German Historical Institute London

17 Bloomsbury Square
London WC1A 2NJ
United Kingdom

Phone: Tel. +44-(0)20-7309 2050



Ole Münch

Modern History

+44 020 7309 2018

Ole Münch joined the GHIL in August 2021. His academic career began in Göttingen, where he studied History and Sociology specialising in Victorian Britain, History from Below and the theory of history writing. For his PhD he moved to the University of Constance where he wrote his dissertation about the Rag Fair street market of early Victorian London - a place where migrants from different origins met and mingled. It therefore seems apt that he is now living and working in London. In his new project, Ole is going to shift from the history of migration to the history of migration research, comparing sociological traditions of Interwar England and America.

Research Project

Sociological Objectivity as a Way of Life
A Comparison between the Chicago School of Sociology and the Mass Observation Project

A black and white photograph of a group of four men from the Mass Observation Project, sitting and smoking around a small dining table, on which the rests of a meal can be seen.

During the interwar years, sociologists started to invent ‘qualitative’ methods to understand how people lived their everyday lives – and how they made sense of them. My project will compare two of these new groups of sociologists: the Chicago School and the British Mass Observation project. The former is regarded as the origin of sociology in the US, while the latter operated outside academic institutions and eventually lost its battle for academic recognition.

I will investigate the extent to which the researchers of both groups, their social backgrounds, their ideas, and their day-to-day lives were similar or different, and why. Such a comparison will not least reveal what was nationally specific about them, and what might need to be explained in a different context.

Responsibilities at the GHIL

  • Research Fellow in British History of the 19th and 20th Century
  • Convener of the GHIL lecture series

Research Interests

  • Migration History
  • History from Below
  • Micro History
  • Social Theory
  • History of Knowledge

Education and Academic Background

2021– Research Fellow at the GHIL
2013 – 2019 Ph.D, University of Constance
2013 – 2017 Research Fellow at the Cluster of Excellence 16 »Cultural  Foundations of Social Integration«, University of Constance
2004 – 2007 Research Assistant at the chair of Prof. Dr. Rebekka Habermas, Georg August University, Göttingen
2003 – 2011 Master in Sociology and Medieval and Modern History at the Georg August University, Göttingen

Fellowships, Grants, and Scholarships

Aug 2017 – Dec 2017 Ph.D Stipend of the Baden-Wuerttembergian Graduate Scholarship Programme
Dec 2015 – Jan 2016 Ph.D Research Stipend of the German Historical Institute, London

Honours and Distinctions

Dec. 2020 Dissertation Prize of the City of Constance for the Promotion of Young Scholars at the University of Constance
Nov. 2020 Wolfgang J. Mommsen Dissertation Prize of the German Historical Institute London



Monographs and Edited Volumes

Cutler Street Market. Interkultureller Austausch im Londoner East End 1780–1850, Moderne Zeit 33, (Göttingen, 2022)

Articles and Chapters

The Romance of Rationality. Performing an Economic Identity in the Mean Streets of Early Victorian London’, in Esther Schomacher/Jan Söffner (eds): The Culture of Money: Implications for Contemporary Economic Theory (Milton Park, in press)

‘Amateur Sociology as an Escape from Domestic Gloom. Re-Analyzing an Oral History Interview with Former Mass Observation Member Celia Fremlin’, in Kölner Arbeitspapiere zur Ethnologie [in press]

‘Integration auf dem Altkleidermarkt. Die Cutler Street des Londoner East Ends im 19. Jahrhundert’, in Jüdische Geschichte & Kultur. Magazin des Dubnow Instituts [in press]

‘Risky Business at Rag Fair. On Interreligious Relations in the Mean Streets of Early Victorian London’, Immigrants and Minorities Journal, 37/1 (2019), 1–23

‘Die Absetzung Richards II. von England (1399) als mitreißende Massenveranstaltung. Oder: Der heilige Körper des Königs und der Versuch ihn zu überwinden – ritualtheoretische Überlegungen’, in Robert Gugutzer/Michael Staack (eds): Körper und Ritual. Sozial- und kulturwissenschaftliche Zugänge und Analysen (Wiesbaden 2015), 219–244

‘Henry Mayhew und die Straßenhändler des viktorianischen London: Ein kultureller Austausch mit sozialen Folgen’, WerkstattGeschichte 22/63 (2013), 83–99
- English translation in: London Journal 43/1 (2018), 53–71

‘Zerstört Geld soziale Beziehungen? Ein sozialtheoretischer Essay’, Kritische Ausgabe 15/23 (2012), 29–33

Reviews and Miscellaneous Publications


Sudhir Venkatesh, Off the Books: The Under-ground Economy of the Urban Poor, Cambridge, MA 2009, WERKSTATTGESCHICHTE 88, Jg. 2023/2, 135-139 (Read here)

Victoria Kelley, Cheap Street. London's Street Markets and the Cultures of Informality, c.1850–1939, Manchester 2019, H-Soz-u-Kult, 30 September 2022 (Read here)

Blog contributions:

‘Soziologische Objektivität als Lebensform – ein Fallbeispiel’, in Themenportal der Max Weber-Stiftung, 2023 (Read here)

'Cutler Street Market. Interkultureller Austausch im Londoner East End', [gab_log] Geisteswissenschaften als Beruf/readme.txt, 4 January 2023 (Read here)

‘A Spurious Abortion of an Impure Brain’: What did the London Street Traders think about Henry Mayhew?, The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates Blog, 3 October 2019 (Read here)

Multireligiosity as a Rallying Call: The Petticoat Lane Street Market in the 1850s, Global Urban History Blog, 17 April 2019 (Read here)