Political Sociology of Social Inequality

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Perspectives – Themes – Methods - Ideas

Social Developments and Structures is the official denomination of this department. Are we therefore concerned with everything that moves and holds the social world (and thus sociology) together? With everything – and, hence, somehow nothing at the same time?

Perspectives: Analysis of Social Structural Formation

Well, the part about “nothing” is obviously not true, even if the subjects of sociological analysis of interest to us also include phenomena such as non-decisions or non-knowledge and their respective social prerequisites and consequences. Instead, we actually focus on “everything”, or to be more precise: on everything that can and should be understood and analysed as social structural formation (and that is quite a bit in society). The very term of social structural formation indicates that it is not only a question of the initially seemingly stable state and "implementation" of societal fields and areas of life, but also of their structural change, their diversity and variability in time and space.

Themes in Research and Teaching

Based on this perspective, the Chair's staff focus on research and teaching by offering mainly themes from the following fields:

  • Sociology of social inequality and social change;
  • Political sociology and welfare state research;
  • Sociology of labor and sociology of age(ing);
  • Sociology of knowledge and of science;
  • Technical and environmental sociology;
  • Analysis of capitalism and critical sociology.

Methods: Qualitative and Comparative

We are never exclusively interested in the (although rarely "grey", mostly extremely colorful) theory formation regarding the subjects in question, but always also in looking into their empirical analysis in a systematic way.

The research methods applied are mostly of a qualitative and comparative nature – not just in the sense of a historical and international comparison of societies, but likewise in the global societal and historical contextualization of our studies.


Ideas: Public Sociology and Social Criticism

Finally, beyond all particular interests and individual projects, the Department is committed to the idea of a "public sociology" and the tradition of sociological analysis with a view to social criticism. Analysing the formation of social structures with regard to their power-based historical development, their effects of structuring inequality, their contradictory dynamics and their feasible alternatives is what drives our work as sociologists.

Research Colloquium on Social Analysis and Social Criticism

Beyond the heat of our teaching and research jobs we try to discuss the chances and limits of such an approach to our subject and our work within the framework of the research colloquium on social analysis and social criticism (content in German). All interested parties are invited to join us in this self-reflexion.