Jürgen Kocka is a Professor and former president of the Social Science Research Center Berlin (2001–2007), and a major figure in the new Social History, especially as represented by the Bielefeld School. He has focused his research on the history of employees in large German and American businesses, and on the history of European bourgeoisie. He gained his PhD from the Free University of Berlin in 1968.
From 1992 to 1996 Kocka was the Founding Director and is to date a Senior Fellow of the Centre for Contemporary History in Potsdam. Since 2008 he has been Vice President of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Inspired by the methods of Ernest Labrousse, he attempts to analyze social processes of German society from the perspective of modernisation, industrialization, and the creation of modern Europe.