Everyday story

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In everyday life it comes to the question of how people in everyday living and their lives and the history experienced. It is about the repetitive in the “ lifeworld ” ( Alfred Schütz ) and the subjective experiences and perceptions as well as the long-term mentalities of the people.


The German or German-speaking branch of everyday history emerged around the mid-1980s. One source was the Swedish movement of a story from below in the grassroots “Dig where you stand” movement promoted by publicist Sven Lindqvist in 1978. The previous interpretation of workers 'history, including by historians on the left, was very abstract and theory-heavy, in some cases also reduced to the history of the workers' movement , with no interest in the cultural history of the workers and their movement. In addition, there was a tendency towards self-organization , towards citizens' initiatives (and grassroots movements) in history workshops .

On the basis of a critical, “undogmatic” reading of Marx (“People do not make their history of their own free will, but they make it themselves.”) The attempt should be made to reconstruct and make understandable the actions of those in particular Until then, existence had not been considered to be historically powerful except in the context of social-historical structures (class, religion, state, society, etc.). Role models were historians like the British Eric J. Hobsbawm and Edward P. Thompson , the Italian Carlo Ginzburg or the French Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie . Everyday history differed from older folklore or cultural history because of the lack of traditionalism and critical perspective. This perspective should, among other things, open up the possibility of understanding historical action from its own logic and to ask the question of the relationship between individuals and small collectives and the “structures” by which they were shaped and which in turn shaped them. Methodically, methods of the dense description of the American ethnologist Clifford Geertz were used, which brings social and local peculiarities to light. In the early days, everyday history turned in particular against the social history “without people”, which was shaped by the “ Bielefelder Schule ”, and its emphasis on impersonal structures that almost completely determine the actions of individuals.


The Federal President's history competition on the subject of “National Socialism in Everyday Life” in 1980/81 brought about a wide range of topics including schools and increased public recognition of everyday history.

Another facet was the interest in ancient everyday history. B. has shown since the opening of the Roman-Germanic Museum in Cologne in 1974 . The interest carried over to other epochs such as the Middle Ages and the early modern period. Also emerged industrial museums , the development of the history of technology appeared in connection with everyday life, in addition there was a industrial archeology on.

Especially for the history of the GDR , the question whether here a distance of everyday life to political history turned from 1990 SED dictatorship makes any sense. While a pure dictatorship story has the harsh repression and possible opposition in mind, an apolitical everyday story deals with harmlessness such as the sandman or long-lasting kitchen utensils that are only supposed to awaken pleasant ostalgic memories. There are private museums whose collections serve this purpose alone. Concepts that show everyday life as strongly shaped by the dictatorship represent a compromise. The Trabi is not only a car that looks special today in comparison, but also the sign of a consumption history of shortages (prices, waiting times, customer requests). Work, leisure and everything else everyday were occupied by politics. Various museums try to show this compromise: the GDR Museum in Berlin, the documentation center of everyday culture in the GDR in Eisenhüttenstadt , the museum in the Kulturbrauerei Berlin.

Role models and interactions

The early attempt by Wilhelm Treue ( cultural history of everyday life ) in Germany in 1942/1961 remained largely without consequences . In France, the Annales School , in particular, had given everyday history impulses since the 1920s with the aim of writing a histoire totale of a society. The recognition of non-elite folk culture as a research interest led to new avenues , e.g. B. the use of inquisition and heretic interrogation protocols to gain details of everyday history for the Middle Ages and early modern times. This also includes historians such as Paul Veyne (ancient) and Michel Rouche (medieval). In Great Britain, Peter Carr wrote an everyday Irish story about Portavo in 2005 . In the USA, too, “ popular culture ” has long been of academic interest. Carlo Ginzburg practiced a form of microhistory in Italy by describing the everyday life of a miller.

Areas of interest and problems

Aspects of everyday life can be for example: work , craft techniques, housing , nutrition , clothing , medical and hygienic situation, sports , celebrations , parents , school , education , experience of religion , war experiences.

There are points of contact and overlaps with disciplines such as social history , demography , genealogy , microhistory , cultural history , medical history , folklore ( ethnology ), regional history , local history and historical geography .

Everyday testimony, for example photos or paintings, diaries and letters, serve as sources . Oral history is also important .

Critics - especially those from around the Bielefeld School - accuse everyday history of being hostile to theory, naive belief in the immediacy of everyday life and exaggerating the potential for resistance of ordinary people to major historical trends. Hans-Ulrich Wehler polemically called everyday history a “romanticizing neo- historicism ”.

See also

Portal: Everyday Culture  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the topic of everyday culture


  • Berliner Geschichtswerkstatt (Ed.): Everyday culture, subjectivity and history. On the theory and practice of everyday history , Münster 1994. ISBN 3-924550-95-6 .
  • Peter L. Berger , Thomas Luckmann : The social construction of reality . A theory of the sociology of knowledge . Frankfurt a. M. 2003 (19th edition), ISBN 978-3-596-26623-4 .
  • Peter Borscheid : Everyday history - fashion folly or new gate to the past (1986), in: Wolfgang Hardtwig (Hrsg.): About the study of history , Munich 1990, pp. 389-407.
  • Volker Böge (Ed.): History workshops yesterday - today - tomorrow. Move! Standstill. Departure? Munich / Hamburg 2004. ISBN 3-935549-91-1 .
  • Hartwig Brandt / Ewald Grothe (eds.): Sources on the everyday history of the Germans 1815-1870 , Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft 2005 (= selected sources on German history in modern times. Freiherr vom Stein-Gedächtnisausgabe, B, 44). ISBN 3-534-12775-7 .
  • Siegfried Grosse / Martin Grimberg / Thomas Hölscher / Jörg Karweick: "Because writing is not part of my daily occupation". The everyday life of little people in petitions, letters and reports from the 19th century . A reading book, Bonn: Verlag JHW Dietz Nachf. ISBN 3-8012-5005-9 .
  • Hannes Heer / Volker Ullrich : Discover history. Experiences and projects of the new historical movement , Reinbek: Rowohlt 1985. ISBN 3-499-17935-0 .
  • Rüdiger Hitz / Hillard von Thiessen : Family, work and everyday life in Hinterzarten , Konstanz: Stadler 1998. ISBN 3-7977-0396-1 (= Hinterzartener Schriften 3).
  • Sigrid Jacobeit / Wolfgang Jacobeit : Illustrated everyday history of the German people 1550-1810. With a foreword by Jürgen Kuczynski , Cologne: Pahl-Rugenstein 1987.
  • Jürgen Kuczynski : History of everyday life of the German people (5 volumes) ISBN 3-89438-191-4 .
  • Sven Lindqvist : Dig where you stand. Handbook for researching one's own history , (swed .: Gräv där du står ) Bonn 1989, Verlag JHW Dietz Nachf. ISBN 3-8012-0144-9 .
  • Alf Lüdtke : Everyday history , Frankfurt / New York: Campus 1989. ISBN 3-593-33893-9 .
  • Helene Maimann: Comments on a history of everyday workers' lives. In: Gerhard Botz, Hans Hautmann, Helmut Konrad, Josef Weidenholer (eds.): Movement and class. Studies on Austrian workers' history. Vienna: Europaverlag 1978. 599-628. ISBN 3-203-50693-9 .
  • Anke Ortlepp / Christoph Ribbat : Living with things. On the history of everyday objects , Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2009. ISBN 978-3-515-09098-8 .
  • Gert Zang: The unstoppable approach to the individual. Reflections on the theoretical and practical benefits of regional and everyday history , Constance: Working group for regional history 1985 (= series of publications of the working group for regional history 6). ISBN 3-7977-0215-9 .
  • Wolfgang Zorn : Everyday history, economic cycles and permanent tasks . In: G. Schulz et al.: S ocial and economic history: Areas of work - Problems - Perspectives , Franz Steiner, Stuttgart 2005, pp. 325–344

Web links

Wiktionary: Everyday history  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Single receipts

  1. ^ GDR Museum Tutow. Retrieved November 28, 2019 .
  2. Peter Carr: Portavo. To Irish Townland and its Peoples . White Row Press Ltd, 2005, ISBN 978-1-870132-16-9 .