Social Sciences

The Institute of Sociology explores phenomena of change in contemporary societies and hereby focuses on (1) changes in work relations and social institutions of working life, (2) changes in the living conditions of individuals and their consequences for social inequality and social participation, (3) internationally comparative and transnational research into social institutions, and (4) the development and application of advanced methods of social research. The following are some highlights of the research activities currently in progress:
Professor Ingo Schulz-Schaeffer and his team are researching in a DFG-funded project the influence of technology-related visions of the future on the development and  prospective impact of new technologies. Two fields of technology (ubiquitous computing and nano medicine) are compared, with a special focus on the differing effects of general visions and concrete future ­scenarios.
The working group of Professor Rainer Schnell is developing innovative solutions for methodological problems in data acquisition in several predominantly DGF-funded projects. One project deals with the development, testing and practical implementation of distance-preserving encryption procedures for geodata. Another is concerned with the implementation and running of a German Record Linkage Centre to support other research groups in their record linkage projects.
The team of Professor Karen Shire analyses the effects of deregulation and flexibilisation of the labour market on the need for stability and security among employees in the publishing and media industries. One BMBF project is further concerned with the development of service robots for the care sector, with a special focus on the transfer of knowledge between developers, producers and users.
The Fritz Thyssen Foundation is funding a project at the chair of Professor Petra Stein with the title “Quality Feature: Intercultural Competence”, in which the meaning of intercultural competence for service provision in public administration is analysed. A target system is being developed which is to portray what can or should be accomplished through training, further education and different recruitment criteria.
Professor Marcel Erlinghagen and his team focus in a DFG-funded project on whether the different degrees of labour market integration of immigrants can also be traced back to ethno-specific embeddedness in social networks.
A project funded by the “Forschungsnetzwerk Alterssicherung” (FNA) asks whether transition behaviour on entering retirement is not only institutionally and economically guided, but also culturally shaped.