Our research profile

The sociology pursued at Jena’s Institute of Sociology can be summed up  as public, critical and pluralistic. The work of the Institute takes its lead from recent concepts of ‘public sociology’ which take as given that social scientific knowledge is generated through interaction and dialogue with intellectuals, civil society actors and experts from various spheres of society. This understanding of public research leads beyond a supposed one-way transfer of scientific insights to society and instead opens up spaces for the co-production of knowledge. In the course of this, the Institute advocates a critical form of Sociology, one that seeks not only to describe social relations but also to contribute toward critiques of relations of domination, inequality and/or exploitation in a theoretically rigorous and empirically well-grounded way. The public and critical Sociology of the Institute is also pluralistic: this is demonstrated not just  by the highly diverse issues it addresses but also and above all in the way it positions these in relation to a wide spectrum of paradigms, theories and methods.

Given that sociological research is more than the mere accumulation of data, this approach to research is based on another triad: bringing together theories of society and subjects with an analysis of the times we live in (one that is sensitive to current processes of transformation) and empirical social research that is methodically broad-based, encompassing qualitative and standardized procedures alike.

Our main research topics

  • #The changing world of work and the economy

    Here we explore the transformation of (waged) labour-based societies and labour markets under conditions of increasingly intensified globalization. This involves looking at structural changes on both the macro level (financial, goods and labour markets) and the micro level (e.g. in the workplace or family). It also involves looking at the activities of individual and collective actors (e.g. trade unions). Processes of growing job insecurity are as much a focus in the Institute’s research as are developments in financialization, the de-standardization of paid work, the polarization of labour markets and the scarcity of skilled workers.

    Funded research projects

    BeaT: Renewing Vocational Training for the Automotive Transformation: Qualification requirement analyses and adaptation concepts for the production, supply and maintenance of battery-powered e-mobility.
    Subproject: Work, skills, qualification

    Project management: Prof. Klaus Dörre
    Research assistants: Johanna Sittel, Lennart Michaelis
    Funding: German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWi)

    Duration: 01.10.2021 – 30.09.2024

    The research project “BeaT – Renewing Vocational Education for the Automotive Transformation” explores the socio-ecological transformation dynamics in the automotive supply industry with a focus on the effects for the qualification requirements of employees. Based on (primarily) qualitative empirical research, the project is developing analyses of qualification requirements and adaptation concepts for the production, supply and maintenance of battery-powered e-mobility. It is a joint project with the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS (joint coordination), automotive thüringen and the SFT of the FSU.

    Making society yourself? Informal economies and social participation in poor rural areas

    Project Leader: Dr. Tine Haubner
    Project team members: Laura Boemke and Dr. Mike Laufenberg

    Funding: BMBF, research project in the funding line “Participation and the Common Good”

    Duration: 2020-2023

    Further information on the project: https://www.soziologie.uni-jena.de/arbeitsbereiche/politische-soziologie/forschungExternal link

    Further research projects

  • #Democracy, populism and a public sphere undergoing structural change

    Forced digitization and the growing significance of social networks are restructuring democratic public spheres, and the impacts of this are anything but straightforward. On the one hand, it is enabling new forms of democratic engagement and mass mobilization while, on the other, complex algorithms, data protection rules around anonymity and the digital spreading of ‘fake news’ are undermining democratic discourse and strengthening the influence of regressive forces in society. In this research area we look at the changes and the dangers to democracy under conditions of a globally reinvigorated right-wing populism on the one hand and of a neoliberalism guided predominantly by corporate interests on the other. We look into the reasons for and causes of this upsurge in right-wing forces as well as the anti-democratic effects of economic and austerity policies that are presented as being the only viable option and a logical response to the situation. The shared point of departure for research in this area is the observation that a fundamental, though historically varied, relationship of tension exists between democracy and capitalism.

    Funded research projects

    Populism and Democracy in the City (PODESTA)

    Collaborative project with the International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities at the University of Tübingen (www.uni-tuebingen.deExternal link)

    Funded by the BMBF, 2017-2020 (www.bmbf.deExternal link)

    Subproject of the University of Jena: Populism and non-normative democracy

    Project staff: Dr. Peter BeschererExternal link (coordination), Dr. Robert FeustelExternal link

    In the wake of the recent financial and economic crises, the trend towards social polarisation is intensifying. Growing sections of the population feel left out or excluded and are losing confidence in the procedures of representative democracy. This is where populist political proposals come in. Their basic patterns – criticism of social elites, personalisation and moralisation of politics – also apply to current problems of urban development, from gentrification and segregation to a lack of opportunities for participation. The research project will examine in an interdisciplinary way how different (institutional and non-institutional) actors in the field of urban action deal with the populist challenge. For this purpose, a perspective is chosen that both (sociologically) examines the life circumstances of the participants and (with the help of practical philosophy) takes their ethical-political self-understandings seriously. The guiding research questions are: 1) How can an improvement of crisis-ridden living conditions contribute to preventing the social division between ‘people’ and ‘elites’? 2) How can civil society urban initiatives take up criticism of political institutions in a democratising way?

    The sociological-empirical basis for answering the research questions consists in: 1) a document- and media analysis that examines right-wing populism as an expression and amplifier of problems of urban development; 2) the investigation of micro-conflicts of urban development in Leipzig with various methods of qualitative social research, including interviews with actors from local politics and administration, civil society initiatives and the citizens they address. In the FSU subproject, the empirical findings will be evaluated with a focus on questions of democratic theory and processed into applicable models for practice.

    The innovative significance of the research project lies in the linking of urban research with the theory of democracy on the one hand and the methodological orientation towards the – much discussed but methodologically underdeveloped – concept of public sociology on the other. The academic value of the project consists in publications, conference papers and research which document civil society responses to the rise of right-wing populism, which deal with questions of moralisation and demoralisation of political discourse and the challenge of political liberalism in the concrete context of urban conflicts (about housing/rent, large-scale building projects, participation, integration, etc.). This will stimulate the formation of academic theories and create connecting points for further research (for example, on populism in demographic-crisis-ridden rural areas). The practical application of the project’s findings takes the form of the (further) development of strategies and concepts for democratic civil society actors to deal with populism. Close cooperation with the local practice partner is itself a component of this practical application, insofar as the linear research process and the objectifying approach are disrupted in a controlled manner. In this spirit, the research findings are discussed with the practice partners in project-accompanying workshops and project results are presented in the media of civil society self-organisation groups (blogs, tenants’ magazines, newsletters or similar). A final public event and its documentation will have a mixed academic-political format. The findings and experiences gained have an exemplary character, so that they also point beyond the local contexts.


    Further research projects

    Sebastian Sevignani, Department of General and Theoretical Sociology: Digital Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere

    The political public sphere is vital for democracy and it is changing – this is the quintessence of Jürgen Habermas’ monumental study on the structural transformation of the public sphere. Today, it is above all the processes of progressive commodification, globalization and digitization that necessitate a resumption of integrative and socio-critical research on changes in the public sphere. In particular, public spheres organized through digital media have set in motion processes of disintermediation of social communication flows and subsequent re-intermediation through predominantly commercial platforms. This has major implications for the organization of social experience, populist movements, discursive learning and democratic deliberation.

    So far, this project has produced nationally and internationally significant publications, e.g. a special volume of the journal Leviathan (Seeliger and Sevignani 2021) and a special section of Theory, Culture & Society (Seeliger and Sevignani 2022) with contributions by Jürgen Habermas, Judith Butler, Nancy Fraser, Donatella della Porta, Hartmut Rosa and Michael Zürn, among others. A research network on the topic is in the making and a research project on the transformation of proletarian public spheres is in preparation.


    Junior Research Group
    Perspectives of
    Co-Determination in Holistic Industrial Production Systems

    Efforts to create humanised and increasingly self-responsible working conditions, which were widespread in the 1980s and 1990s, have now largely culminated in holistic industrial production systems (ganzheitliche Produktionssystemen - GPS). These systems use the new possibilities of information technology control and – emanating from the automotive industry – are increasingly regarded as the most advanced method of recording and optimising operational processes. However, the hopes of expanding the creative competences and self-responsibility of employees have only been realised to a limited extent. In many places, GPS seem to increase the pressure to perform rather than the opportunities for participation, and instead of enhancing employees’ tacit knowledge, they are designed to extract and centralise it. The research group is investigating, on the basis of the sociology of knowledge and from a practical perspective, to what extent it is possible to reassert the approach of productive co-determination in GPS.

    Specifically, its objectives are:

    a) to identify the current significance of GPS for employees’ design options,

    b) to assess the changed status of employee knowledge and competences in the context of GPS, and

    c) to develop perspectives and applicable instruments for further democratisation.

    The fundamental idea is that extended workplace self-reflection always has two sides. Techniques with which work and communication can be controlled in depth could also enable employees to continuously shape their field of work, to help decide on its framework and to coordinate work demands with their lifestyle. The research project is designed to be methodologically explorative and to bring new impulses to the field under investigation. To this end, empirical research (mainly in a), theory-based analysis (especially in b) and the exploration of new practical opportunities (especially in c) are combined.

    Theoretically, the junior research group will not only take up discussions on the sociology of work, but also impulses from the sociology of knowledge and the theory of democracy. At the same time, the debate on the “knowledge society”, in which perspectives of communicative self-administration as well as intelligent organisation were already a topic early on, lends itself as a basis. The research field shows the tension between these motifs: producers’ increasingly relevant knowledge of processes can be used in a participatory way, but it can also confront them as knowledge management – which often squanders the chance for employees to voluntarily contribute their incorporated and communicative knowledge. It therefore becomes useful to re-examine the assumption, put forward above all by Boltanski/Chiapello and in governmentality studies, that at its core, flexible capitalism mobilises self-responsibility for profit.

    Empirically, GPS offer a good starting point to support the relativisation of a thesis that is widespread in the sociology of work: that retaylorisation and control of work performance metrics now severely restrict the programmatic (partial) autonomy of workers. This needs to be examined in individual companies. In addition, it must be ascertained to what extent and in what proportions GPS have actually taken up the new management concepts of the 1980s and 90s (such as lean production, kaizen/continuous improvement processes, flexible standardisation and semi-autonomous group work). In practical-explorative terms, this finally allows for a new look at the critical thesis that gains in workers’ autonomy merely mean new forms of “governance”. Instead, it is to be expected that centralised control and decentralised decisions, participation and top-down procedures, and the inclusion or non-inclusion of workers’ wishes collide in many cases. The techniques of company self-monitoring, auditing and standardisation offer starting points for recognising such conflicts and potentially even establishing new participatory standards. How much economic and knowledge democratisation this will make possible is the research group’s open question.

    Detailed information on the working group, current events etc. can be found on the website of the junior research group: www.gpsmitbestimmung.wordpress.comExternal link

  • #Gender relations, care and social reproduction

    Neither work-based societies nor relations of inequality or property can be addressed in a ‘gender-neutral’ way, which is why a gender-sensitive approach is an integral part of all the research foci. At the same time, the analysis of gender relations constitutes a focus in its own right within our work: analysing (changing forms of) masculinity is just as key here as studying family structures, couple relationships and changing sexualities. Taking an extended concept of work – one which encompasses household and care work as well as waged work – as our point of departure, scholars at the Institute also conduct research into the crisis of social reproduction and changes in relations of care and caring in an era of rapid changes in family structures and the welfare state as well as demographic change. In this context, another key focus of our research is the ageing society and ageing individuals.


    Funded research projects

    “Caring Boys?” Alternative (research) perspectives on the reproductive crisis”.

    Project Leader: Prof. Dr. Sylka Scholz
    Project Team Members: Nadine Nebyie Baser, Kevin Leja, Iris Schwarzenbacher

    Project Duration: 01.02.2019 - 31.01.2022

    Funding: DGF-Project

    The starting point of this project is the sociological diagnosis of a crisis of social reproduction. In public discourse, this crisis is primarily discussed as a problem of and for women, for example in terms of the compatibility dilemmas of working women or the childlessness of female academics. In scholarly discourse, too, the topics of care and care work are primarily associated with the female gender, while the role of the male gender in the reproductive crisis remains largely under-examined.
    The project “Caring Boys?” therefore deals with questions of masculinity and (caring for) others. It examines male adolescents’ ideas of care and self-care, since the assumption of responsibility for others, i.e., a generative perspective, develops significantly in the phase of adolescence and this phase of life offers opportunities for innovations in gender relations. Studies in the sociology of masculinity describe boys above all as risk-taking and competition-oriented. They do not seem to have any concern for themselves or others. However, an argument can be made that current images of masculinity also lead to the fact that other, opposing concepts of masculinity and practices are not being addressed, i.e. that boys and men do not thematize (caring for) others even if they are personally relevant.
    The research project focuses on the boys’ perspective and uses qualitative methods to explore ways of talking about experiences of care and self-care. In doing so, it uses knowledge concerning boys’ work in that boys’ pedagogical impulses are part of the methodological setting. The project has two goals: firstly, to expand the state of academic knowledge on boys’ caring and secondly, to develop the theoretical concepts of caring, generativity and masculinity in relation to the life phase of youth. This is related to the question of how the integration of caring into constructions of masculinity can be achieved in the long term. In this way, the project also contributes to the treatment of the social reproduction crisis.


    Aaron Korn / Sylka Scholz (2022): ‘Fürsorge sichtbar werden lassen – eine tiefenhermeneutische Analyse der Lebenswelten männlicher Jugendlicher’ in Gender: Zeitschrift für Geschlecht, Kultur und Gesellschaft. Vol. 14, Issue 2 (Juni 2022).
    Kevin Leja / Iris Schwarzenbacher (2022): ‘Von Angesicht zu Angesicht – Fürsorgepraktiken in Freundschaften von männlichen Jugendlichen’ forthcoming in GISo: Gesellschaft – Individuum – Sozialisation. Online-Journal (Autumn 2022).
    Ruby, Sophie/ Scholz, Sylka (2018): ‘Care, Care Work and the Struggle for a Careful World from the Perspective of the Sociology of Masculinities’ in Aulenbacher, Brigitte/ Gutiérrez-Rodríguez/ Liebig, Brigitte (eds.): External linkCare and Care Work. Special Issue of External linkÖsterreichische Zeitschrift für Soziologie ÖZS, Vol 43, Issue 1: 73-83 [pdf, 207 kb].External link

    Further research projects

    Prof. Dr. Kathrin Leuze, Department of Methods of Empirical Social Research and Social Structure Analysis: The Significance of Horizontal Segregation by Field of Study for Educational and Labor Market Inequalities Between Highly Qualified Women and Men

    The research project focuses on gender inequalities among highly qualified women and men in higher education and on the labor market and asks what role the gender-typical choice of study subject plays in this regard. On the one hand, women today are more highly qualified than men, receive better grades and graduate from higher education more often. On the other hand, they are still disadvantaged in the labor market, have a higher risk of not being employed at all or being employed part-time after their studies, or only find work in other professions and lower-status positions. Since women continue to study different subjects than men, the project investigates the role of horizontal segregation of subjects in gender inequalities in academic success, particularly in the case of students switching subjects, and in the development of unequal labor market opportunities in the life course of academically educated women and men.

    Prof. Dr. Kathrin Leuze, Department of Methods of Empirical Social Research and Social Structure Analysis: Individual and Institutional Influencing Factors on Gender (Un)typical Vocational Aspirations in Adolescence

    It is well known from the literature that women and men work in different occupations and that this gender-typical “occupational choice” is accompanied by unequal labor market returns. However, little is yet known about why young women and men are interested in different occupations and why gender-typical occupational aspirations differ between industrialized nations. The project therefore begins by investigating possible factors influencing the development of gender (un)typical occupational aspirations and focuses on the importance of skills and grades, the parental home as well as the school environment. These analyses are then extended to 30 countries of the EU and the OECD. The research investigates to what extent cultural and institutional national differences influence gender-stereotypical career expectations, and whether this can also explain national differences in preferences for STEM professions (mathematics, engineering, natural sciences, technology).

    Dr. Charlotte Büchner, Department of Methods of Empirical Social Research and Social Structure Analysis: Developmental Tasks and Gender-Specific Educational Inequalities

    This habilitation project deals with the differential school performance and educational success of boys and girls. Previous studies show that gender-specific differences in school participation and achievement are mainly found at the higher secondary school level and clearly favor girls. Boys are proportionally more often represented at lower secondary schools and more often leave school without a certificate, while girls are overrepresented at upper secondary schools and more often obtain the Allgemeine Hochschulreife than boys. Based on the concept of psychosocial developmental tasks, it is assumed that girls and boys cope differently with central areas of life in adolescence and that this is linked to their different educational achievements. For the empirical study, the question of interest is which differences exist between boys and girls in coping with the developmental tasks of bonding, regeneration and participation and to what extent these contribute to gender-specific educational inequalities to the disadvantage of boys. In addition to gender, the educational milieu of boys and girls is also taken into account in order to gain more differentiated insights as part of the examination of the theoretical concepts. The empirical study is based on a questionnaire survey from 2014, conducted and financed by the Chair of General Educational Science and Empirical Educational Research at the University of Erfurt. A total of 1,192 students in grades nine and ten at German regular schools and grammar schools in the Central Thuringia area were surveyed.

    Ralf Minor: Economic Issues in Higher Educational Pathways – Empirical Evidence on Whether and Where to Study and with What Success

    Project Duration: August 2019 – July 2022
    Cooperation PartnerProf. Dr. Matthias-Wolfgang Stoetzer, Ernst-Abbe-Hochschule Jena

    The dissertation project, which comes under the heading of higher education research, examines the economic influences on the participation, implementation and success of tertiary education pathways. A special focus is on the investigation of aspects of social justice and segregation in students’ different starting situations and the effects of political interventions. The three working papers - produced within the framework of this dissertation - have different focuses. While Paper 1 examines the political intervention of charging and abolishing tuition fees on the basis of panel data, Paper 2 explores this instrument and its different manifestations by means of a systematic review at the European level. The third paper examines the determinants of successful graduation at German universities of applied sciences on the basis of individual administrative data.

    Dr. Mike Laufenberg, Department of Political Sociology: Queer Theories Revisited

    Queer theories analyze how sexuality and gender relations are regulated and shaped in the context of the history and present of global capitalism, the nation state, migration, racism and (post-)colonialism, but also become the starting point for emancipatory movements. In the last 15 years, queer theory has become more socio-theoretical, materialistic and transnational than it was in the 1990s. In the process, as with queer and transgender marxism, promising theoretical developments are taking place that bring together supposedly incompatible theoretical traditions. Mike Laufenberg is currently working on the realization of two publication projects that deal with the genealogy and present of queer theory and aim to help to fill the gaps in the German-language reception of these developments: Queere Theorien zur Einführung (Junius Verlag) and, together with Ben Trott, Queer Studies: Schlüsseltexte (Suhrkamp) are both scheduled to appear in 2022.

    Dr. Sarah Uhlmann, Department of Political Sociology: Reproductive Struggles in the City

    Based on evidence of increasing and diverse protests in and around the city, this completed dissertation project examines the causes and commonalities of urban protests and furthermore asks what form of social struggles they involve. In order to characterize, explain and classify urban social movements beyond the European context, urban developments and urban protest initiatives in New York City, Buenos Aires and Hamburg were compared in a qualitative case study. On the one hand, it becomes apparent that the urban social movements share certain socio-spatial contents and practices, which primarily aim at improving housing and living conditions. On the other hand, it becomes clear that these protests are a reaction to an increasing valorization of urban space and general processes of Landnahme. Building on these empirical findings, the project develops a class-theoretical interpretation of the protests, whereby the urban social movements are understood as extended class struggles that express themselves in the sphere of social reproduction. This classification is not only intended to identify the political-economic causes of the protests, but also to capture the formation of urban social movements as political actors. By analyzing the intertwining of levels of action and structure in relation to urban protests, the research project aims to contribute to social movement research.

    Dr. Tine Haubner, Department of Political Sociology: Money or Life - Care and Care Work in Capitalism

    Brigitte Aulenbacher, Cornelia Klinger and Tine Haubner are currently preparing the publication of a book entitled Geld oder Leben - Sorge und Sorgearbeit im Kapitalismus (Money or Life - Care and Care Work in Capitalism). The publication, which focuses on care and care work in late capitalism, starts from the assumption that in late capitalism not only work but the totality of life is to be subjected to maxims of efficiency and profit. Care and care work are thereby globally reordered and are contested technologically, economically, civically and ‘privately’. In addition, traditional relations of power and domination – gender, race and class – are inscribed in the new order of care. The three authors examine the late capitalist care regime from philosophical and sociological perspectives. They combine social and historical diagnoses with the search for ways out of the crises of social reproduction.

    The book is due to be published by Beltz-Verlag in Spring 2020: https://www.beltz.de/fachmedien/soziologie/produkte/produkt_produktdetails/40316-geld_oder_leben_sorge_und_sorgearbeit_im_kapitalismus.htmlExternal link.

    Prof. Dr. Sylka Scholz, Department of Qualitative Methods and Micro-Sociology: Caring Masculinities

    Men have recently become (once again) more involved in the field of care. They appear in the position of the active father, the caregiver in the domestic care of family members, in the care of the elderly/the sick or the educator in the kindergarten. It becomes apparent that caring is currently being renegotiated. In modern capitalist societies, care is usually equated with the female gender role. This relation is breaking down for different reasons. For several years I have been working on the relation between men, masculinities and care. I am interested in whether and how experiences as a care-giver change individual constructions of masculinity. And going further: Can experiences of care unlock the potential of subjective transformation? Do these only relate to the private sphere of life? Does an attitude of care develop that could also be politicized, for example in terms of commitment to a democratic post-growth society? Against this background, together with Andreas Heilmann I organized a forum on “Masculinities in Capitalist Growth Societies” (January 2018) at the Kolleg Postwachstumgesellschaften and published several essays, including “Caring Masculinities - gesellschaftliche Transformationspotentiale fürsorglicher Männlichkeiten?” in: Feministische Studien, Schwerpunkt Postwachstum, Vol 31, Issue 2, 349-357 and Repliken, ibid., 369-373). In 2019, the conference volume “Caring Masculinities. Männlichkeiten in der Transformation kapitalistischer Wachstumsgesellschaften” will be published by Oekom Verlag Munich. I am pursuing this topic in the research project “Caring Boys? Alternative (research) perspectives on the social crisis of reproduction”. In the special issue “Sorgende Männer. Perspektiven der Geschlechterforschung auf Männlichkeit und Care” (Caring Men: Perspectives of Gender Studies on Masculinity and Care) of the journal Gender, my essay “Fürsorge sichtbar werden lassen - Eine tiefenhermeneutische Analyse der Lebenswelten männlicher Jugendlicher” (Letting Care Become Visible – A Deep Hermeneutic Analysis of the Life Worlds of Young Men) (co-authored with Aaron Korn) will be published in Spring. The research project “Study and career choices of male youths in the field of caring activities” discusses the extent to which caring masculinities develop in the field of care for the elderly and nursing. The results will be published in the anthology Jungen, männliche Jugendliche und junge Männer in Bildungskontexten (Boys, Male Adolescents and Young Men in Educational Contexts) edited by Jürgen Budde and Thomas Viola Rieske by Verlag Barbara Budrich in Spring 2022.

  • #Socio-ecological transformation and (post-)growth societies

    We are currently seeing an accumulation of ecological threats that are either exceeding or may potentially exceed the bounds of the planet’s capacity to cope. These challenges cannot be regarded as separate from fundamental issues of growth and the capitalist dynamic of accumulation, and they are closely interwoven with social issues and inequalities. In this research area, then, we study the connections between ecological and social problems and scrutinize the socio-cultural, ecological and political implications of economic growth. Analysis here is focused in part on the processes by which economic growth rates in the so-called early industrialized countries are slowing down even as high-growth societies (China and India in particular) are rapidly ‘catching up’; equally, though, we study specific alternative economies oriented toward sustainability, and the challenges associated with the energy transition. A special strand of analysis, pursued in cooperation with the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig, is dedicated to the study of societal contradictions that arise in processes of transformation toward sustainability.

    Funded research projects

    BeaT: Renewing Vocational Training for the Automotive Transformation: Qualification requirement analyses and adaptation concepts for the production, supply and maintenance of battery-powered e-mobility.
    Subproject: Work, skills, qualification

    Project management: Prof. Klaus Dörre
    Research assistants: Johanna Sittel, Lennart Michaelis
    Funding: German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWi)

    Duration: 01.10.2021 – 30.09.2024

    The research project “BeaT – Renewing Vocational Education for the Automotive Transformation” explores the socio-ecological transformation dynamics in the automotive supply industry with a focus on the effects for the qualification requirements of employees. Based on (primarily) qualitative empirical research, the project is developing analyses of qualification requirements and adaptation concepts for the production, supply and maintenance of battery-powered e-mobility. It is a joint project with the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS (joint coordination), automotive thüringen and the SFT of the FSU.


    H2Well – Conceptions of the market ramp-up for the strategic implementation and realisation of hydrogen technologies in regional infrastructure systems for electricity, mobility, heat and oxygen use
    Subproject 3: Social-scientific research on the conception of the market ramp-up.

    Project Management: Prof. Klaus Dörre
    Research assistants: Anna Mehlis, Anne Jasmin Bobka

    Funding: BMBF

    Duration: 01.12.2020 – 30.11.2023

    Together with the Chair of Transport System Planning at the Bauhaus University Weimar and SolarInput e.V. in Erfurt, concepts for the strategic implementation and realization of hydrogen technologies in regional infrastructure systems for electricity, mobility, heat and oxygen use are being explored. The investigation takes place within the framework of the H2-Well coalition. The coalition is based on green hydrogen as an important pillar of the energy and mobility transition and aims at the implementation of decentralised hydrogen systems for a sustainable structural change in the region between the rivers Main and Elbe.

    The accompanying social science research examines the content and characteristics of socio-ecological transformation conflicts in the mobility and energy sectors, where radical structural upheavals and measures are emerging. In particular, the following areas are being researched: (1) the acceptance of hydrogen mobility, (2) scenarios of future mobility development in rural and urban areas and their fit with fuel cell technology, (3) demographic and skilled labor development in the field of hydrogen applications. Qualitative and quantitative surveys will be used to identify conducive and inhibiting factors for hydrogen use and to combine them in forecast models.

    The research project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the program “WIR! - Change through Innovation in the Region” program.

    Websites of our Project Partners:

    Junior research group: Global Inequalities and social-ecological Change

    Project Management: Juniorprof. Dr. Maria Backhouse

    Funding: BMBF

    Duration: 01.07.2016 – 31.05.2022

    More information about the project: https://www.bioinequalities.uni-jena.de/en

    Junior research group: Mentalities in flux

    Project Management: Dr. Dennis Eversberg

    Funding: BMBF

    Duration:2019– 2024

    More information about the project hereExternal link or at https://www.flumen.uni-jena.de/en/flumen-contributions-at-the-degrowth-conference-2020/External link

  • #Technological change, digitalization and the information society

    Rapid technological change is fundamentally restructuring conditions of working and living in general as well as modes of knowledge and information processing in particular. This research focus involves studying the conditions and consequences of forced digitization in the world of work (widely known as 'industry 4.0') and leisure as much as questions to do with intellectual property in the digitized knowledge economy, the importance of knowledge and information for the transformation of today’s capitalism (‘post-capitalism’ or ‘knowledge capitalism’) and changes in temporal structures and structures of ownership on the financial markets where securities, which are traded automatically, are held for only fractions of a second. A further focus of research in this area is the restructuring of ‘privacy’, or the private sphere, and of the public(s) in digitization processes.


    Funded research projects

    Voluntary work as a resource in contemporary capitalism
    Sociological project within the DFG funded interdisciplinary research group on “Voluntary work” (Erfurt, Oldenburg, Jena)
    https://www.uni-erfurt.de/philosophische-fakultaet/forschung/forschungsgruppen/freiwilligkeitExternal link

    Directors: Prof. Dr. Silke van Dyk, PD Dr. Stefanie Graefe

    Duration: October 2020 to September 2023

    Contact: silke.vandyk@uni-jena.de; stefanie.graefe@uni-jena.de

    As a result of fundamental changes to the welfare state, the flexibilization of the labour market and the digital revolution, demand is emerging for occupations and activities that are (expected to be) carried out more or less unpaid, informally and on a voluntary basis, from involvement in a care support centre and unpaid (overtime) work in companies to the value-added activity of consumers in the digital economy. Our basic assumption is that voluntary work is becoming the lynchpin of a newly emerging mixed-activity economy. The project explores this assumption in the following areas of study: a) forms of unpaid or low-paid work on digital platforms (prosuming, clickworking, sharing); b) voluntary involvement of dependent employees in companies in the digital economy, and c) civil society activities organized in analogue contexts.

    The project’s aim in selecting these areas for study is to examine portfolios of voluntary work that are typical of contemporary society, beyond workplace-based paid and regulated work and classical domestic work. Our research interest is directed in particular at activities that are gaining greater significance in the context of the currently emerging and expanding digital economy. The aim is to explore comparatively the way these activities are organized and combined in Germany and the US, in order to discover more about the influence of different welfare-state path dependencies.

    Good Interaction Work Digitally Assisted (GIDA)

    Project management: Prof. Klaus Dörre
    Research assistants: Martin Ehrlich, Manfred Füchtenkötter, Christian Schädlich, Jana Steckbauer

    Funding: BMBF

    Duration: 01.06.2020 – 31.05.2023

    In cooperation with the Internationaler Bund e.V. – a large provider of youth, social and educational work – the partners are investigating, developing and testing digital solutions in child and youth welfare (daycare centers, educational assistance, open child and youth work). Among other things, they are developing their own app solution that digitally maps and further develops the service structures of youth centers and mobile youth work.

    ZeTT - Thuringia Center for Digital Transformation

    Project management: Prof. Klaus Dörre, Dr. Thomas Engel

    Funding: BMAS - Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales, TMASGFF - Thüringer Ministerium für Arbeit, Soziales, Gesundheit, Frauen und Familie

    Duration: January 2020 – December 2022

    More information about the project: https://zett-thueringen.de/External link


    The Measured Life: Productive and counterproductive consequence of quantification in the digitally optimizing society

    Prof. Dr. Hartmut Rosa, University of Jena, Chair of General and Theoretical Sociology

    Duration: 01.02.2018-31.01.2021

    VW Foundation, funding line "Key Themes in Science and Society"

    Project participants:
    Prof. Dr. Vera King (spokesperson; Goethe University & Sigmund Freud Institute Frankfurt a.M.
    Prof. Dr. Benigna Gerisch, International Psychoanalytic University, Clinical Psychology and Psychoanalysis, Berlin.

    Dr. Diana Lindner

    "The project focuses on the contradictory consequences of a logic of optimization based largely on quantitative growth, a logic that has acquired additional significance in the course of the digital transition. By means of a threefold project design, the productive and counter-productive dimensions of this 'numbers oriented' approach and of the measurement of life are examined both in the context of organizational and individual optimization processes and with regard to their intersubjective and psychological meanings.

    The project thus builds on its predecessor entitled “Aporias of the drive to perfection in accelerated modernity. The contemporary cultural transformation of self-projections, modes of mutual relation and bodily practices” (APAS), funded by the Volkswagen Foundation as part of its programme 'Key Themes in Science and Society'. APAS studied the significance and consequences of demands for the optimization of social practices in different areas of society and in terms of changes to cultural norms and constructs of 'normality' and 'pathology'.” (Source: https://www.sigmund-freud-institut.de/index.php/forschung/forschungsschwerpunkte/das-vermessene-leben-produktive-und-kontraproduktive-folgen-der-quantifizierung-in-der-digital-optimierenden-gesellschaft/External link)

    More Information: www.ipu-berlin.deExternal link and www.sigmund-freud-institut.deExternal link

    Further research projects

    Sebastian Sevignani, Department of General and Theoretical Sociology: Theories and Problems of Digital Capitalism

    Currently, one can observe a renewed interest on the part of critical theory in capitalism as an economic and social form. Digital capitalism is increasingly becoming a point of reference for critical contemporary diagnoses of social development, whereby it is becoming clear that, contrary to earlier, premature and optimistic assessments of a “retreat of capitalism” (Rifkin) forced by technological development and the coming of “the knowledge society” (Stehr) or “network society” (Castells), theories and critiques of capitalism have lost none of their relevance for social self-understanding and practice. Two things are striking here. On the one hand, there is no agreement on what the specifics of digital capitalism are. Is it a dimension or phase of capitalist development? Is there a continuity or a break with fundamental characteristics of capitalist societies? What differences and commonalities can be identified in the related diagnoses of, for example, knowledge, high-tech, online, cognitive, informational capitalism? On the other hand, references to digital capitalism are mostly made on the basis of partial observations of specific social developments or in individual social fields (see above). What is missing is a social-theoretical synthesis.
    The project is connected to a volume on theories of digital capitalism co-edited with Simon Schaupp and Tanja Carstensen. This volume has become a standard work on the topic with the participation of internationally relevant researchers (e.g. Ursula Huws, Felix Stalder, Kylie Jarret, Eran Fisher, Brigitte Aulenbacher, Wolfgang F. Haug, Nick Srnicek, Jamie Woodcock, Trebor Scholz, Helen Hester, Jodi Dean, Judy Wiachman, Oliver Nachtwey) and will be published by Suhrkamp in 2023.
    Part of the project is a collective post-doctoral thesis entitled “Arbeit und Kommunikation im Digitalen Kapitalismus” (Work and Communication in Digital Capitalism), which argues that the dichotomy (widespread in the social sciences) between work and communication as wholly distinct forms of action obscures key phenomena of digital capitalism, such as prosumption, algorithmic control and new forms of the (re)production of social inequality. The political-economic part deals with the further development of a critical cultural political economy of media and communication and case studies of important aspects of digital capitalism (data economy, structural transformation of the public sphere, digital needs). The sub-project C05 in the Transregio SFB 294 is also located in this context.


  • #Inequality, class and property relations

    Closely linked to the transformation of labour-based societies is the development of global and national social inequality/inequalities. Most nation-state societies are currently seeing an increase in inequalities of income and assets alongside a simultaneous decrease in inequalities between the states of the North and the South. The aim here is to conduct empirical research into social structures, structures of distribution and educational pathways as well as to study class relations and conflicts and to analyse welfare state institutions and socio-political instruments in terms of their influence on societal relations of inequality. Another key focus at the Institute is the analysis of property relations, which for decades have been neglected in Sociology due to the latter’s concentration on the distribution of income and goods.

    Funded research projects

    Collaborative Research Center TRR 294 "Structural Change of Property"

    Speaker: Prof. Dr. Hartmut Rosa, Prof. Dr. Silke van Dyk, Prof. Dr. Tilman Reitz
    Coordination: Christine SchickertExternal link (Jena) und Dr. Amelie StuartExternal link (Erfurt)

    WebsiteExternal link

    Jena Class Analysis Project

    Project Director: Prof. Dr. Klaus Dörre
    Steering Group
    : Jakob Graf, Kim Lucht, John Lütten
    Research Assistant
    : Armin Szauer
    : Rosa Luxemburg Foundation

    The Jena Class Analysis Project (PKJ), located within the Institute of Sociology at FSU Jena, is a broad-based group comprising young academics, students and experienced researchers that engages critically with issues of contemporary class analysis and class politics at a theoretical, analytical level. Initial working hypotheses were presented at a conference entitled “Rethinking Class” held by the Institute in collaboration with the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in November 2018. The current focus of the PKJ is the production of a literature review, specific chapters and hypotheses from which will be presented at the next conference to be held in Berlin in November 2020. An exchange of ideas is explicitly welcomed and can take place via the following email address: projekt.klassenanalyse@uni-jena.de.

    Project homepageExternal link


    Further research projects

    Björn Seipelt, Department of Methods of Empirical Social Research and Social Structure Analysis, Dissertation Project: Causes and Consequences of Background-Specific Choice of Study Subject.

    Project Duration: October 2018 - March 2022
    Cooperation partner: Dr. Markus Lörz, Deutsches Zentrum für Hochschul- und Wissenschaftsforschung (DZHW)

    The dissertation project explores the question of why people of different social backgrounds choose different fields of study and what consequences this has for their course of study and their access to doctoral studies. Firstly, the project shows which background-specific inequalities exist in the choice of subject and how these can be explained. Secondly, the question is addressed as to what consequences the background-specific choice of subject has for the further academic success of people from different social backgrounds. Thirdly, the question is addressed as to what consequences such choices of subject have for background-specific inequalities in access to doctoral studies. By examining the causes and consequences of this phenomenon at different points in time – before the start of studies, during the course of studies and after graduation – a comprehensive picture emerges of the empirically confirmed but hitherto insufficiently researched background-specific disparities in choice of academic subject. The focus lies on the far-reaching significance of background-specific subject choice for the reproduction of social inequality.


  • #Changing relations of time, subjects and globality

    This research area focuses on subjects and their socialization under conditions of Late Modernity. It involves studying issues of subject formation in the context of social, labour market and health policies focused on individuals’ self-help capabilities while also looking at the consequences for both individuals and societies of an increasingly accelerated world of work and everyday life and the phenomenon of social exhaustion (‘burnout’). A fundamental question also addressed here is: who is even accepted as constituting a social subject? This question serves to structure our study of social struggles against exclusion and discrimination of certain subject positions (e.g. of so-called 'Hartzers' – i.e. people receiving state welfare benefits – or of transgender people). With regard to temporal relations, study is focused on the extent to which society’s understanding of time or typical patterns of people’s use of time are undergoing change. Finally, we analyse relationships between subjects and their environment as ‘world relations’, linked to the question of how – and under what conditions – people create a resonant connection to the world.


    Funded research projects


    Further research projects

    PD Dr. Stefanie Graefe, Department of Political Sociology: Research on Resilience

    I have been studying the topic of work-related exhaustion and the social debate about the increasing number of stress-related illnesses for some years now. I am particularly interested in the ambiguous “nature” of exhaustion - it is as much a social discourse related to processes of so-called “therapeutisation of the social” as it is a consequence of the specific and often stressful demands arising from flexibilized working and living conditions. Interestingly, a new term has been emerging for some time that not only seems to promise a way out of stress and overload, but at the same time offers itself as a solution for social problems of all kinds: resilience. What is meant by this term is a flexible hardiness that seems to equip the most diverse social and natural actors with a kind of immune protection against the crisis-ridden present. I am interested in the conceptual and normative implications of the concept of resilience: is the resilient subject a counter-design to the “exhausted self” (Alain Ehrenberg) that seems so typical of flexible capitalism? My reflections appear in the form of a longer essay from transcript-Verlag:  https://www.transcript-verlag.de/978-3-8376-4339-8/resilienz-im-krisenkapitalismus/External link

  • Collaborative Research Center TRR 294 "Structural Change of Property"

    The Collaborative Research Centre/Transregio “Structural Change of Property” at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena and the University of Erfurt brings together researchers from the social sciences, law, economics and history and investigates the fundamental structural transformation of property that has been observed since 1989. While private property has gained in importance worldwide since this time, under conditions of increasing concentration and deregulation, the property system that has grown out of this has proven to be crisis-prone and highly controversial in the face of new economic, political and technological challenges. It is challenged not only by the global financial and economic crises, but also by political conflicts over the appropriation, distribution and containment of private property, as well as by the dynamics of the knowledge- and bio-economies, which are linked to alternative models of common property, shared use and free access to resources.

    The Collaborative Research Centre pursues the goal of investigating the fundamental structural change of property that can be observed at least since 1989. The Institute of Sociology participates with eight subprojects:

    Speaker: Prof. Dr. Hartmut Rosa, Prof. Dr. Silke van Dyk, Prof. Dr. Tilman Reitz
    Coordination: Christine SchickertExternal link (Jena) und Dr. Amelie StuartExternal link (Erfurt)

    WebsiteExternal link