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
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 Partner: Prof. 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.