Andreas Fasel works part-time in the hospitality sector and as an independent historian. He holds a PhD in History from the University of Zurich. His research interests covers the history of working-class militancy against taylorization, the history of corporate social policy, and the history of both industrial and domestic work. In 2021 he published the book “Fabrikgesellschaft” (Factory as Society) which critically explores the inner workings of some of the most important Swiss industrial engineering/manufacturing firms after World War II. His current research focuses on the micro-politics of deindustrialization in Switzerand since the 1970s.

Project statement

Around 1970, Switzerland was one of the world’s most industrialized countries – with industrial production accounting for 40 percent of gross domestic product. This was to change in the following decades. The 1973-75 crisis marked the beginning of a long-term decline in industry and around 1990 the share of industrial production in GDP decreased to 20 percent.

Although employment in the second sector declined markedly, and the world of work changed radically, both the history of deindustrialization and the stories and memories of workers affected by it remain a largely unknown territory in swiss historiography and public memory.

The collaborative project of Dr. Andreas Fasel and Dr. Leo Grob addresses this gap. It examines deindustrialization in Switzerland from a double perspective, using the example of the canton of Valais:

From a history of knowledge perspective, we ask what concepts, semantics, and statistical categories the Valais authorities used to register and classify declining industrial employment, factory closures, and rising unemployment figures. We also examine the role of the authorities in shifting the burden of unemployment onto migrant workers.

From a labor history perspective, we examine the two most important industrial companies in Valais: Alusuisse and Lonza. On the basis of concrete plant closures, we shed light on the role of the trade unions as well as the experiences and memories of affected workers and local communities.