The historiography of the labour movement in Germany has been dominated not by historians, but by sociologists. 1 The formative interpretations, the major theoretical initiatives, the seminal works, all owe more to the sociological profession than to its historical counterpart. Moreover, German labour history has not merely been strongly influenced by sociology per se – in itself no bad thing – but in particular a decisive role has been played by one specific theoretical tradition within the field of sociology – the functionalist or neo-Weberian approach. There are three main reasons for this unusual state of affairs. In the first place, academic historiography in Germany has been more reluctant to admit the legitimacy of labour history than it has elsewhere. Not only has it until recently been politically very conservative, it has also been able to use the highly organised character of the German historical profession – often compared by its critics to a medieval guild (Zunft) – to exclude unwelcome outsiders and political radicals. This political conservatism and relative ideological homogeneity has been compounded by an overwhelming concentration on problems of foreign policy, a feature of traditional German historiography which began with the identification of historians with the nationalist movement of the nineteenth century, was strengthened by the widespread opposition in Germany, on largely historical grounds, to the Treaty of Versailles after 1918, and only ended with the final abandonment of the nationalist legacy in the mid-1960s. 2 In Britain, by contrast, even if labour history began within the labour movement itself, it was able to gain a place in the historical profession because universities were less ideologically homogeneous, and because historians were more prepared to admit the legitimacy of other subjects of historical inquiry apart from the central policies of the state.