Social Sciences

Institute of Sociology

Research at the Institute of Sociology is concentrated in five main areas: “Work, Organisation and Social Integration”, “Social Inequality, Life Patterns and Gender”, “Comparative and Transnational Sociology”, “Advanced Methods in Empirical Sociology”, and “Social Theory”. The Institute of Sociology is also involved in the “Crossborder Labour Markets” research cluster. The various research activities are united by their qualitative and quantitative empirical orientation and focus on international comparison. A selection of the research work is outlined in the following report.

Since her appointment in October 2013, Prof. Sigrid Quack and her team have been researching processes of transnationalisation in the information and cultural sector. In her role as Associate Director of the Research Group on “Institution Building Across Borders” at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (Cologne), she simultaneously leads research projects on global diffusion and on adaption of norms and standards in various transnational policy areas.

Central to the DFG-funded research project “Modelling dyadic decision-making processes of spatial mobility and their consequences”, led by Prof. Petra Stein, is the analysis of regional labour market mobility with a particular focus on decision-making in partnerships. In addition to analysing mobility decisions, the project explores the consequences of labour market mobility for the social position of  mobile individuals. Two further projects, “Intercultural competence as a quality criterion” and “Safe Ruhr“, a joint project under the “Risk Management of Emerging Compounds and Pathogens in the Water Cycle” funding initiative, were concluded in 2014.

Prof. Rainer Schnell’s research group developed new procedures for sampling individuals with a migrant background in several DFG projects. New methods were also developed for merging different surveys from the same individuals without using names or panelcodes. The work focused on encrypting geographical data (geocodes) in line with data protection requirements and on examining and advancing privacy preserving record linkages (PPRL). As part of another DFG-funded project, Prof. Schnell also runs the “German Record Linkage Center” in conjunction with the Research Data Centre of the Federal Employment Agency (FDZ of the IAB).

Prof. Ingo Schulz-Schaeffer’s research group is investigating questions relating to the sociology of technology in two DFG projects. In one of the projects, the researchers are exploring the effects of future perceptions of technology on the development of new technologies and are particularly interested in how application scenarios influence engineers during the design process. The other project examines the technical structuring of ­cooperation in transnationally distributed software development projects using software development tools.

The “Motives of emigrants in Germany” project has been running at the Institute of Sociology since mid-2013 and is conducted by Prof. Marcel Erlinghagen in conjunction with the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR), Berlin, and the Federal ­Institute for Population Research (BiB), Wiesbaden. The project analyses migration and return migration, processes which have become increasingly important due to the spread of globalisation and transnational migration. The group is particularly interested in establishing which countries individuals from Germany migrate to and return from, as well as the reasons for their respective migration decisions.

Two of the Master’s graduates from the Institute of Sociology received distinctions in 2014 for their outstanding achievements: Ms Stefanie Aunkofer was awarded the UDE Diversity Research Prize for her Master’s thesis on “Un/doing gender in the daily life of same sex couples”. Mr Patrick Lazarevic won the Sparkasse Award for exceptional academic performance at the Faculty of Social Sciences. Anne-Kristin Kuhnt, research assistant with Prof. Anja Steinbach, is among the winners of the Allianz Demography Award for young researchers, which she received from the German Society for Demography (DGD) for her dissertation “The desire to have children over the life course – analyses based on the German Family Panel (pairfam)”.