From the end of the 19th Century, the organisation of societal interests intensified in non-state institutions, albeit often those closely linked to the state. Their roles were manifold: the creation of regulations and guidelines, social and financial self-help, ensuring education and quality standards, ensuring professional discipline, sometimes implementing the sovereign authority of the state. To a large extent, however, self-regulation institutions also acted as institutions in which conflicts were argued out in a formal process – conflicts which were not delivered to state jurisdiction or in which the state only acted as a secondary authority. Usually operating as resolution, arbitration or conciliation boards, these institutions had a variety of forms: They could be located within an existing organisation (e.g. courts of arbitration in professional associations) or created for conflicts between different organisations (e.g. arbitration boards for disputes resulting from deficiency contracts between the umbrella organisations of banks, building societies and credit unions) or be set up by the authorities but staffed by representatives of societal groups (e.g. rental arbitration offices).
Although familiar, these forms of conflict resolution have so far hardly been appraised from the point of view of legal history.
The project is designed to close this research gap and examine this kind of institution, including as an alternative model to the state monopoly on jurisdiction (and to the administrative state monopoly on decision-making). The most attention will be paid to the question of the extent to which, through the way such institutions functioned, the interaction between the state’s ambitions of control and the efforts of sectors of society to maintain self-organisation were realised.
In the first year, the contemporary literature will be reviewed and parliamentary material and printed administrative arbitration material will be evaluated, predominantly in Frankfurt and the Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Berlin). In the second year, the investigation will be deepened to include some selected forms of arbitration through archive research, predominantly in the Geheimes Staatsarchiv Berlin-Dahlem, archives of bodies which maintained arbitration institutions and regional archives. The third year will be used for evaluation and to compile the publication.