After the PhD in 1978 on the politics and interest formulations in the post-1945 Nordic economic cooperation Bo Stråth developed a research focus on labour market organisation and industrial relations in a long historical and comparative European/Japanese perspective. A particular focus was on the growth and collapse of the shipbuilding industry from the 1850s to the 1970s. At the Gothenburg University he also developed an interest in questions of continuity and discontinuity in historical change. These questions were investigated in the CONDIS project (Continuity and Discontinuity: Long-term Factors of Conflict Resolution in the Democratisation of Scandinavia) 1986-1989.
His research at the European University Institute developed the issue of modernity of Europe in a comparative context. He has published widely in this field. The question of contradictions and varieties of modernity ('multiple/entangled modernities') is central to his approach. The theoretical interest is in the question of the governability of modern societies, in particular the role of language, symbols and interpretative frameworks for the construction of community, legitimacy and identities. Not least the roles of religion and science, in particular social and economic sciences and professional historiography are in this light seen as fruitful problem fields. The research projects under the umbrella of Modernity of Europe dealt with questions of a European political economy, a social Europe, memory politics in Europe, a European public sphere and a cultural Europe.
The research at the University of Helsinki aimed at connecting the regional Nordic and European levels of analysis with a global perspective. This research was performed in particular in two projects: Between Restoration and Revolution, National Constitutions and Global Law: an Alternative View on the European Century 1815-1914 (EReRe), co-directed with Martti Koskenniemi and financed by the European Research Council (ERC: advanced grant); and Conceptual History and Global Translations: The Euro-Asian and African Semantics of the Social and the Economic.
Past Projects (externally financed)
The CONDIS project (Continuity and Discontinuity: Long-term Factors of Conflict Resolution in the Democratisation of Scandinavia) at Gothenburg University 1986-1989
The Cultural Construction of Community in the Process of Modernization: Sweden and Germany in Comparison (co-directed with Bernd Henningsen) at EUI and Humboldt Universität zu Berlin 1996-1999
The Transformation of the Idea of a Full Employment to a Flexibility Discourse in European Comparison at EUI 1997- 2000
From the Werner Plan to the EMU: The Economic-Political Embedding of Labour Markets between Europe and the Nation in Historical View. SALTSA project at EUI 1999-2001
Between Europe and the Nation State. The Reshaping of Collective Interests, Identities and political representation. European Forum, at EUI/RSC (co-directed with Stefano Bartolino and Thomas Risse)1999-2001.
IAPASIS (Does Implementation Matter? Informal Administration Practices and Shifting Immigrant Strategies in Four Member States. European Framework Project at EUI (co-directed with Anna Triandafyllidou) 2000-2002)
Union and Democracy: The United Kingdoms Sweden-Norway (1814-1905) at EUI sponsored by RJ 2001-2004
EURONAT (Representation of Europe and the Nation in Current and Prospective Member States: Media, Elites and Civil Society. European Framework Project at EUI (co-directed with Anna Triandafyllidou) 2002-2004
A European Social Citizenship? SALTSA project at EUI 2002-2004
Changing City Spaces at EUI as part of European Framework Project coordinated by Ulrike Meinhof, Southampton 2003-2005
EMEDIATE (Ethics and Media in a European Public Sphere). European Framework Project at EUI (co-directed with Anna Triandafyllidou, Hagen Schulz-Forberg and James Kaye) 2004-2006
Europe's 'Cultural Heritage' Reconsidered: Rupture and Continuity in European Cultural Orientations co-directed with Peter Wagner at EUI 2005-2006
European Solidarity. SALTSA project at EUI 2006-2007
Conceptual History and Global Translations: The Euro-Asian and African Semantics of the Social and the Economic at Helsinki University sponsored by KONE Foundation and RJ 2008-2014
Between Restoration and Revolution, National Constitutions and Global Law: an Alternative View on the European Century 1815-1914 (EReRe). ERC-sponsored project co-directed with Martti Koskenniemi at Helsinki University
These projects have resulted in numerous publications.
Commitments and Positions
- 1978-1984 researcher Gothenburg University
- 1983-1984 Alexander von Humboldt fellow in Kiel (18 months) and Glasgow (5 months).
- 1984-1987 Assistant Professor Gothenburg University
- 1985 member of the International Working Party on Labour Market Segmentation.
- Spring/Sommer 1987 member of the international Bürgertum Project headed by Jürgen Kocka at Bielefeld University.
- Autumn 1987 visiting fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in Social Science (SCASSS) in Uppsala.
- Winter 1987 to Spring 1988 visiting professor at Tokyo University.
- 1987 appointed Associate Professor ('docent') at Gothenburg University.
- 1990-1996 professor of history at Gothenburg University.
- 1990-1991 counsellor and head of the European Division of the Swedish Government's National Board of Trade and partly on leave from the chair in history in Gothenburg.
- November, 1992 and February-March, 1993 visiting professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris.
- June, 1993 visiting professor at the University of Bielefeld.
- April, 1994 visiting professor at the University of Aarhus ( Denmark).
- 1993-1994 expert member of the Swedish Government Commission on consequences concerning democracy and sovereignty of a Swedish membership in the EC.
- 1993-1994 member of the expert panel on the evaluation of the history discipline at the Danish universities.
- Spring/Summer, 1995 visiting professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin.
1995-1996 visiting professor at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt/Main.
- January, 1997-June, 2007 professor of contemporary history at the European University Institute, Florence.
- July 2007 - April 2014, Academy of Finland Distinguished Professor of Nordic, European and World History and Director of Research at University of Helsinki.
- November 2013 - March 2014 fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Studies (STIAS).
- Februay, November 2015 visiting professor University of Barcelona (ERC TRAMOD project/Peter Wagner)
- January-March 2017 fellow at The Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies (STIAS)
- January-March 2020 fellow at The Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies (STIAS)
- Member of the International Committee for Social History (www.iisg.nl/ishc).
- 2009 - 2013 Member of the advisory board of the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies ( Freiburg University).
- 2009 - 2013 Member of the advisory board of the Kulturwissenschaftliches Kolleg ( Konstanz University).
- 2008 - 2013 Member of the advisory council of the Centre for Advanced Study, Sofia University.
- 2008 - 2014 Member of the Advisory Committee of University of Helsinki Network for European Studies .
- 2010 - 2020 Member of the Jury for the Award of the Gerda Henkel Prize.
- 2013 - 2014 Member of the German Unesco export committee for immaterial cultural heritage.
- 2014 - 2020 Member of the Swedish Research Council (VR) panel on consolidation grants
- 2014 - 2018 Member of the board of Riksbankens Jubileumsfond RJ and chair of the working group on history and adjacent disciplines in human sciences
- Member of the editorial board of Economic and Industrial Democracy.
- Member of the editorial board of the Redescriptions. Yearbook of Political Thought and Conceptual History.
- Member of the advisory board of Journal of Language and Politics.
- Member of the editorial board of Transcultural Studies.
- Member of the Editorial Board of International Political Anthropology.