RUB »Research



Current research projects:


Participative risk policy? – Risk regulation of silicosis in coal mining in West Germany and Great Britain.
DFG-research project, 2016-2019

The research project explores the risk policy of the West German welfare state using the example of the anti-silicosis campaign in the coal mining industry between 1949 and the 1970s. Firstly the science-based risk regulation instruments and techniques developed in the German coal mining industry, primarily by the miners’ trade association as accident insurance for miners, are explored. In particular, the phenomenon of so-called scientification of the modern social security system is addressed. These questions are then expanded by an examination of how social relations in West German society were reflected in silicosis risk regulation following the Second World War or how the scientification and socialisation processes impinged upon each other. Particular consideration is given to the extent to which the various stakeholders were able to participate in the formulation and implementation of regulations on silicosis risk policy in the coal mining industry in the Ruhr Valley. The results for the Ruhr mining will be compared with the fight of the silicosis in the British coal mining industry.

Detailed information are avaibale at the project homepage of the Deutsche Bergbau-Museum Bochum.


Industrialization and the miner`s body. Biopolitics in mining at the Ruhr, 1890 – 1980.
DFG–research project, 2010 – 2012
, continued at the Deutsche Bergbau-Museum

The research project analyses the biopolitics of Ruhr mining in the period from 1890 to 1980 with a body centered methodological approach. The project asks for the transformation of processes of object- and subjectification, insofar as they refer to the miner’s body, as well as for the formation of biopolitical dispositives which manifest in specific connections of body concepts, institutions, infrastructures together with social, medical and economical practices in Ruhr coal mining. The miner’s body is interpreted as an intersection of economical, political and medical interventions and attributions, which constitute a biopolitical network between processes of power, knowledge practices and forms of subjectification.
The dynamic within the body dispositive has to be taken into account with special consideration given to three regards:

  • with regard to the practices of regulating the miner’s body by means of workplace designing, hygienic regulations, medical infrastructure etc., which immediately unfold their affect in the mining operation. On the other hand with regard to those biopolitical practices which were of importance to the miner’s outside of the coal mines’ gates (e.g. worker’s sport, housing situation and general hygienic and medical infrastructure in the Ruhr area).

  • with regard to the network structure of the actors: here, the question of enforcement  possibilities  for the interests of the respective actors arises and the inner-organisational relationship network is to be analysed. Of particular interest is the mentality of the actors (entrepreneur, physician, state agents, miner etc.), insofar as it refers to the biopolitics of mining.

  • with regard to the emergence of knowledge on the miner’s body and its interaction with its environment: The medical experts objectified the miner’s body to an intense degree since the German Empire; or to use exaggerated phrasing: a profound process of medicalisation and pathologization of the miner’s body began, which constructed it as being endangered and dangerous. At the same time, the produced knowledge of application-oriented disciplines, for instance hygiene and industrial medicine, was used for interventions on the miner’s body. Furthermore, the interventions of academic experts showed an influence that reached as far as the miner’s working and everyday routine.

Based on the above formulated questions, which lay an emphasis on the relationship between discourse, politics and knowledge, a methodological approach is chosen which leans closely towards synthetically operating studies on discourse and gouvernmentality (Michel Foucault).

In the course of the DFG research project a workshop will take place in February 2011.
For further information about the workshop please go to:



Completed research project:

Past and future of social security in German mining: The Knappschaft
Pakt für Forschung und Innovation 2007 – 2009

The social security in Germany today faces radical modification in order to meet the future requirements of the changing economic situation (especially caused by technological progress and international market liberalization) and the demographic transition. Consequently, the 750 year anniversary of the founding of the miners` mutual benefit association Knappschaft, which in the year 2005 was transformed into the Knappschaft Bahn See (integrating social security for mining, railway, and shipping), should be understood as a chance to study one of the most  important institutions of the German social security system comprehensively from its roots and to analyse its setup for the future under consideration of the historical developments.
The Knappschaft Bahn See is distinct to other German insurance institutions in having its own hospitals and therefore is particularly associated with the history of occupational health. This part of the research project, which is located at the Institute for Medical Ethics and History of Medicine at the Ruhr-University Bochum, will study and trace the formation, development, tasks and historical significance of this institution.
Moreover, the constitution of a miners’ health insurance and pension scheme and the appointment of miners’ physicians will be studied as well as the role of the Knappschaften as hospital and pharmacy founders building a former non-existent medical infrastructure in the Ruhr area. Additional room will be provided to treat mining occupational diseases (e. g. silicosis, ancylostomiasis, nystagmus, tubercolosis) and rehabilitation measures.