Social Sciences

The Institute of Sociology explores phenomena of change in contemporary societies and focuses in that context on: changes in work relations and social institutions of working life; changes in the living conditions of individuals and their consequences for social inequality and social participation; international comparative and transnational analysis of social institutions; and development and application of advanced methods of social research. The following are just some highlights of these research activities:

  • In two DFG-funded projects Professor Rainer Schnell is developing new methods of data conflation. One project deals with the conflation of data whose identifiers have to be encrypted on account of data protection legislation. Test results show that the method developed produces similarly good results as uncoded identifiers. The other project devises methods that make it possible to significantly reduce data loss within conflation of data of several panel waves of longitudinal analysis.
  • In order to analyse the interactive influences of several actors on decision processes, a DFG-funded project led by Professor Petra Stein developed a non-linear simultaneous probit model. This decision-making model is used to analyse family formation decisions. A follow-up project is extending the model for analysis of panel data of more than two panel waves, allowing several actors and competing decisions to be taken into account.
  • Two research projects examine new occupati­onal demands on employees resulting from flexible working practices. One DFG project of Professor Hanns-Georg Brose analyses the reconciliation of flexibility requirements with competing private demands of employees as a form of social exchange. A BMBF-funded project led by Professor Karen Shire examines the effects of deregulation and increasing flexibility of the job market on stability and security needs of employees in the publishing and media industry.
  • The development of service robots in healthcare is the subject of a BMBF consortium project within which a subproject of Professor Karen Shire is examining the establishment of knowledge transfer loops between developers, manufacturers and users.
  • As part of a joint project of the Volkswagen Foundation, Professor Gerhard Bäcker is examining by European comparison the strategies of employers and employees to improve the compatibility of working life and nursing care for family members.
  • In a series of publications in leading sociological periodicals, Professor Ingo Schulz-Schaeffer is developing a theory of action based on the sociology of knowledge.