Catterall, Stephen (2012) Book Review: Unemployment and Protest: New Perspectives on Two Centuries of Contention - Edited by Matthias Reiss and Matt Perry. History, 97 (326). pp. 334-335. ISSN 0018-2648

The book is a collection of essays based mainly on papers presented at a conference organized by the German Historical Institute, London, in 2007 in conjunction with the Society for the Study of Labour History and consists of fourteen essays arranged in five substantive parts covering a 200-year panorama with an impressively diverse range of experiences from Beerbuhl's work on the Blanketeers of early nineteenth-century Britain through to Vietor-Englander's examination of ‘Unemployed Protest in Germany in the Internet Era’ and deals with countries as various as Austria, Britain, France, Germany, New Zealand, Palestine and the USA, although the majority focus on Britain and western Europe. However, there is a clear interest in the inter-war period with four essays grouped into a part entitled ‘The Golden Age of Unemployed Movements’, while five other essays are also located during this period.

The essays are introduced and grounded in two themes. First, one of the two editors writes on ‘Marienthal’, an Austrian textile-producing village which during 1931–2 was the subject of ‘socio-graphic’ research into its two-year experience of high levels of unemployment by a team of Vienna-based researchers with a cross-disciplinary remit. Secondly, there is an exposition by Klanderrmans of the predominant social psychological theories underpinning unemployment as a social phenomenon. The collection attempts to challenge the accepted notion that the unemployed were essentially passive and seeks to demonstrate the variety of instances through which different individuals and organizations responded to the experience of unemployment.

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