‘Workers’ Agency and Social Justice in the Age of Authoritarianism: Austria and Czechoslovakia, 1938–1989’

The project develops a bottom-up perspective on workers’ engagement and promotion of social justice in the labour environment in Central Europe. She will examine employees’ understanding of their evolving rights and entitlements in their interactions with both democratic and authoritarian governance in Austria and Czechoslovakia, respectively, from the 1930s to the 1980s. This project focuses on two neighbouring countries located in “Western” and “Eastern” Europe and promises to develop a comparative research perspective that will use diachronic and synchronic comparison to cut across traditional political periodisation. The project thus brings together two countries linked by a common Habsburg past but divided by different political developments after 1945. It analyses how social justice was negotiated ‘from-below’, and beyond rare open protest. The project will trace the development of equal treatment and social and labour rights both as an ideal and as a realised practice. Focusing on the labour environment, where relations have always been highly gendered, she pays attention to the power relations in the workplace inscribed in institutional practices and social-cultural patterns and thus compares and contrasts the ways women and men approached the question of justice and their goal of a more just working environment.

Dr. Radka Šustrová

Radka Šustrová studied history and political science in Prague and Berlin. Her research focuses on the history of the welfare state, family policies, social and labour rights, women’s activism and nationalism in 20th-century Central Europe.