Social Sciences

The “New World of Work and Social Integration” is the theme of research at the Institute of Sociology. It picks up on the classic sociological question of the relationship between the division of labour and solidarity. This issue was first addressed during the transition from an agrarian to an industrial society; today, the task is to re­interpret and examine it under the terms of the contemporary knowledge and service society. To do this, transformation tendencies on different levels of society (individual, group, network, organisations, institutions) must be traced and simultaneously considered from a comparative transnational and international perspective. Development and application of different social research and survey methods complement the profile under which a range of projects has been conducted.
The initial findings of a DFG-funded research project dealing with “Employment Relationships as Social Exchange”, which has been undertaken in cooperation with social scientists at the University of Bielefeld, show that the fundamental arrangements of company personnel policy are decisive in determining the effectiveness and take-up of state and employer provisions for families. In this sense, company personnel policy is always also family policy (Prof. Hans-Georg Brose).
Results of a study concluded in 2008 by the international study group of the VW Foundation (“Cultural Capital in Migration”) reveal that successful integration of highly qualified migrants into the labour market is not only dependent on labour legislation and migration law, but also on the extent to which their qualifications and skills are of (in)formal use in specific occupations. At an International Summer School (in cooperation with the Ruhr-University Bochum), junior scientists from 19 countries had the opportunity to learn more about the methodological principles of sociological migration research (Jun. Prof. Anja Weiß).
In two international networks sponsored by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Duisburg’s sociologists identified the shift towards temporary employment relationships as a major cause of growing social inequalities, since they are increasingly detached from established forms of social security and employment protection, and thereby from government regulation (Prof. Karen Shire).
Duisburg’s sociologists also made progress in Survey Methodologies, developing not only a new archiving tool for survey questions and data but also new methods of protecting linked personal data more effectively. In 2008, Duisburg’s focus on method development was consolidated as theInstitute of Sociology became the coordination centre for DFG Priority Programme 1292 “Survey Methodology” (in cooperation with the University of Bremen and the DIW, Berlin) (Prof. Rainer Schnell).
Alongside editorial roles for a range of Germanlanguage journals, researchers from Duisburg also held leading positions in the German Sociological Association (GSA) and (co-)edited two international open access journals, Survey Research Methods and Science, Technology, and Innovation Studies.
Duisburg sociologists additionally headed several panels of the International Sociological Association Forum and research committees in 2008. Numerous research projects were undertaken in international networks from East Asia to North America.