Two Faces of King Coal: the Impact of Historiographical Traditions on Comparative History in the Ruhr and South Wales
Dependence on existing monographic scholarship is particularly noticeable in comparative work done by historical sociologists and political scientists. This chapter explores the issue of comparativists comparing historiographies rather than histories through a systematic comparison of the historiography of two of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries' major coalfields. It presents the work of historians on the Ruhr and then shifts attention to South Wales. Research into the history of the Ruhr was also conducted under the auspices of the Verein für Socialpolitik, the so-called 'socialists of the chair', from the late nineteenth century onwards. Much of the historical writing on the Ruhr in the first decade and a half after the Second World War retained this partiality towards the employers. South Wales had a very different history from the Ruhr and perhaps it is not surprising that the historical work produced was very different as well. Comparative history is a high-risk activity but it can bring correspondingly high gains.