Faculty of Humanities

Institute of Sociology

The research profile of the Institute of Sociology is characterised by its focus on fundamental, empirical social research. Its key areas of research involve tackling questions that address the basics of the various disciplines of sociology, ranging from industrial sociology, family sociology, migration sociology, social comparison, social structure analysis, technology sociology and transnationalisation research, right through to method development.

The Institute for Sociology is also involved in the key research area of “Cross-border Labour Markets” and conducts a wide variety of research activities in this field. The DFG funds a total of three projects in this sector, one of which is led by Prof. Shire and entitled “Principle Investigator: Cross Border Temporary Agency Work: The Construction of Markets and Transnational Regulation in International Comparison”.

With regard to developing and exploring empirical social research methods, the last two years have seen no fewer than six different research projects completed with funding from the DFG. Several of these DFG projects have involved Prof. Rainer Schnell’s work group developing new techniques for amalgamating different surveys. The key focus of the 2015 project, entitled “Encrypting geocodes for scientific use files”, was based on the encryption of geographical data in accordance with data-protection requirements. Furthermore, as part of another project supported by the DFG, Prof. Schnell was able to set up a record linkage centre at the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) in conjunction with the German Federal Labour Office’s research data centre. Prof. Schnell is also involved in an identity-matching project that incorporates bloom filters in the field of medical care. This year saw the launch of yet another project, which investigates the level of bias in web surveys on the overall health of the general population.

Prof. Petra Stein and her team are working on two DFG-funded projects to develop various models to analyse social processes. The project “Modelling of dyadic decision-making processes in terms of spatial mobility and its consequences” looks at the conception and implementation of a statistical model for the analysis of labour market-related mobility decisions, which enables a joint consideration of the multi-level, multi-stage and household-related components of the decision-making process surrounding spatial mobility. This project forms the basis of the article by Christoph Kern and Petra Stein entitled “Comparing coefficients of nonlinear multivariate regression models between equations”, which was the winner of the Early Career award at the 2015 Conference of the European Survey Research Association. Every two years, this prize is awarded for outstanding work by emerging new scientists in the field of survey methods. The primary focus of the project “Longitudinal modelling of the future development of occupational placement in the third generation of migrants using dynamic microsimulation” is to simulate the integration of migrants into the labour market within a period of 30 years.

Questions surrounding migration and integration are the mainstay of Prof. Marcel Erlinghagen’s dedicated work group. Over the years, one of its key focal points has been the causes, conditions and consequences of emigration from and back to Germany. In a study supported by the Mercator Foundation, which was carried out by Prof. Erlinghagen in cooperation with the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR) and the Federal Institute for Population Research (BIB), emigrants leaving and returning to Germany were surveyed to a much greater extent than ever before to establish their motives for relocation. Furthermore, Prof. Erlinghagen was even able to secure funding for the project “Social participation of young migrants and their integration into the labour market in later life”. Scheduled to start at the beginning of next year, the funding for this project came from the scheme for research into emigration and integration – part of the funding programme for supporting humanities and social sciences in North Rhine-Westphalia. Prof. Erlinghagen seeks to use this project to analyse the connection between the sporting, musical and other social activities of adolescent migrants and their later integration into the world of work.

Since her appointment in April 2016, Prof. Anne Busch-Heizmann has been working with her team to investigate the relationship between business structures to promote equal opportunities – such as operational measures for gender equality and balancing family and work life – and gender-specific social inequalities. Her latest project, “The ambivalent importance of organisational structures for explaining social inequalities between women and men”, has recently secured funding from the DFG. Its notable aim is to expose potential ambivalence in the impact of these business structures.

Transnationalisation processes in the field of information and culture is one of the key research areas of Prof. Sigrid Quack. In cooperation with the University of Innsbruck, Professor Quack seeks to establish how those involved in creative processes deal with intellectual property (IP)-related uncertainty in practice as part of the “Organised creativity under regulatory uncertainty” project, which is associated with “Organised Creativity” – a DFG-funded research group.