2022 GHIL Lecture Header Image


Cultures of Compromise in Germany and Britain 1945–2000

Hosted by the Department of International History

Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building 54 Lincoln's Inn Fields London WC2A 3LJ, United Kingdom


Professor Constantin Goschler

Professor Constantin Goschler

Visiting Professor, Department of International History


Professor N. Piers Ludlow

Professor N. Piers Ludlow

Head of the International History Department

The annual Gerda Henkel Foundation Visiting Professorship Lecture 2022 will be held in-person at the Wolfson Theatre.

This public event is free and open to all but registration is required. The lecture will be recorded for those that are not able to attend in-person. 

The current discussion on the crisis of liberal democracy repeatedly bemoans the loss of the ability to compromise as a result of increasing social polarisation.

Compromise as a fundamental technique —albeit not the only one—for dealing with societal and political conflicts is a voluntary agreement between at least two individual or collective parties. It has often been claimed that readiness for compromise as an option for resolving such conflicts is tied to historically changeable preconditions, that is, specific cultures of compromise.

Sociologist Norbert Elias regarded Britain and Germany as prime examples of contrasting cultures of compromise. However, political scientist Martin Greiffenhagen claims that the relationship between the cultures of compromise of the two countries has been reversed since 1945. It seems that it is no longer Britain that now possesses a pronounced culture of compromise, but rather the Federal Republic of Germany.

This lecture will discuss these claims on the basis of a comparison of both countries. To what extent can we speak of different cultures of compromise in Britain and Germany; how did they develop during and after the Cold War; and what does this mean for the history of liberal post-war democracy?

Constantin Goschler (@GoschlerC) is Professor of Contemporary History at the Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany. For the 2022/23 academic year he is holding the post of Gerda Henkel Visiting Professor.

The Visiting Professorship is a joint project of the German Historical Institute London (GHIL) and the International History Department of The London School of Economics and Political Science and is funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation.

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A reception will follow after the event. 

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