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Information on press releases and related news of the department "Theoretical and Normative Foundations".

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1st prize for his M.A. dissertation on "Soziale Wohnungsraumagenturen in Deutschland - Eine Ersterhebung" (Social Housing Agencies in Germany - An Initial Survey).

Axel Steffen has received an award by the “Deutscher Mieterbund” (German Tenants’ Association) for his M.A. dissertation in the Master program Social Policy on the topic "Soziale Wohnungsraumagenturen in Deutschland - Eine Ersterhebung" (Social Housing Agencies in Germany - An Initial Survey). On the 67th "Deutschen Mietertag" (German Tenants' Day) in Magdeburg, the DMB study prize was awarded for the second time, where Axel Steffen won the first place.

The German tenants‘ association and the Institute of Spatial Planning of the Technical University of Dortmund award this prize every two years. The award is dedicated to outstanding dissertations which deal with the research area of housing policy in an innovative way.

The Master in Social Policy offers a first-class education, on an international level, over four semesters. Objectives of the course include the development of the welfare state and civil society, the analysis of European welfare regimes, its future and the challenges they face within a globalized context as well as international comparisons. Further objectives include a close look at sub-areas and fields of social policy and onto the development and consequences of socio-political measures. The aim of the curriculum is to qualify for positions in institutions and organizations of social security as well as research institutes on welfare state- and social policy. The graduate program is aimed at students interested in professions that incorporate social scientific reflection, responsible action and research-oriented work.

Further information:
Press release "Deutscher Mieterbund" (German tenants‘ association) of 06 June 2017, in German
Master Social Policy


Contact:
Dr. Irina Wiegand
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58508
E-Mail: irina.wiegand@uni-bremen.de

Draft Proposal for a Cluster of Excellence submitted.

In collaboration with social scientists from the InIIS, the Universities of Hamburg, Hanover, Oldenburg and Osnabrück and with Jacobs University, members of the SOCIUM have worked out a research program on "Contested Inequalities". Currently the draft proposal is being evaluated. In September 2017, the Committee of Experts will decide which initiatives will be invited to submit a full proposal.

Summary of the draft proposal:

In the 21st century, various inequalities - economic, political, ethnic, gender, age - drive the socio-political agendas of the OECD world. While these inequalities are not new, their increasing variety, cumulation, and interweavement have become a pressing and potentially dangerous issue. Inequalities shape the lives of people, and how they experience and react to them crucially affects the social cohesion and democratic legitimacy of OECD countries. The sustained or felt insecurity of large parts of the middle classes and the precarization of the lower classes are expressions of this dawning mega-problem of our times, as shown by recent populist shifts and authoritarian political "involutions" in many countries.

These troubling prospects make our Cluster of Excellence "Contested Inequalities (COIN)" ask: What follows for societal and political dynamics when the traditional dominance of economic inequalities is complemented by other kinds of inequality? More specifically, we want to know:

  • How do people cope individually with entangled inequalities in their conduct of life?
  • How do people respond collectively to perceived inequalities?
  • How do state authorities react to the increasing salience of inequalities?


Urgently necessary new and better answers call for a sophisticated understanding of the settings of multi-dimensional inequalities, the practices which individuals, collective actors, and states adopt as they react to inequalities, and the intended and unintended effects of these reactions. COIN focuses on the contested nature of inequalities and the circular dynamics of interrelated responses. While in the first funding period we concentrate on countries and country comparisons, in the second period we will shift towards the international embeddedness and consequences of contested inequalities - that is to the changing qualities of international relations between OECD societies and with the Global South.

COIN builds on the strengths of the Bremen social sciences in cooperative, theory-driven, and comparative empirical research on social stratification and social policy in the OECD world. It is based on a theoretical framework tailor-made for COIN's research programme with three closely linked Research Areas (Individual, Collective, and Policy Reactions) and a Data and Methods Centre. Bremen sociologists and political scientists will work together with pertinent colleagues from other, mostly nearby, universities, and national and international cooperation partners to provide the academic community and general public with illuminating results on contested inequalities as one of the grand challenges of our times and to establish a world-class research center dedicated to this issue.

Principal investigators (women) / Maßgeblich beteiligte Wissenschaftlerinnen:
Barlösius, Eva - University of Hannover 
Drobnič, Sonja - University of Bremen
Gottschall, Karin - University of Bremen 
Hollstein, Betina - University of Bremen
Hornidge, Anna-Katharina - Bremen / ZMT, University of Bremen 
Lippke, Sonia - Bremen / Jacobs University 
Martens, Kerstin - University of Bremen
Schmidt, Susanne K. - University of Bremen 
Schmitt, Carina - University of Bremen
Teney, Céline - University of Bremen

Principal investigators (men) / Maßgeblich beteiligte Wissenschaftler:
Botzem, Sebastian - University of Bremen 
Engel, Uwe - University of Bremen 
Groh-Samberg, Olaf - University of Bremen
Haunss, Sebastian - University of Bremen 
Manow, Philip - University of Bremen
Neckel, Sighard - University of Hamburg
Nonhoff, Martin - University of Bremen
Nullmeier, Frank - University of Bremen 
Obinger, Herbert - University of Bremen
Rothgang, Heinz - University of Bremen
Schäfer, Armin - Osnabrück University 
Schimank, Uwe - University of Bremen 
Tepe, Markus - University of Oldenburg 
Windzio, Michael - University of Bremen 
Wonka, Arndt - University of Bremen

Contact:
Prof. Dr. Kerstin Martens
Institut für Interkulturelle und Internationale Studien - InIIS
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67498
E-Mail: martensk@uni-bremen.de


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Uwe Schimank
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 9
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58564
E-Mail: uwe.schimank@uni-bremen.de

Magnus Brosig: Das Wissen der jungen Generation über öffentliche Alterssicherungsprogramme

Surveying the knowledge of social policy schemes has not yet become a developed field of social policy research. This contribution summarizes the results of an exploratory study aimed at gaining first insights into the knowledge that 25- to 35-year-olds have of the German public pension system, of public subsidies for private pension saving (“Riester-Rente”) and of the social assistance scheme for the elderly (“Grundsicherung im Alter”). All in all, structured interviews with twenty persons showed rather good knowledge of the basics and of pivotal concepts of these schemes, while accurate information on the specific provisions and more marginal aspects was clearly less common. Only a few interviewees showed comprehensive knowledge and clearly wrong “knowledge”, respectively, while the “unconcerned” group situated between those extremes proved to be largest in numbers: These persons considerably overestimated the benefit level and the degree of redistribution within the public pension scheme and might thus run the risk of building up insufficient pension entitlements in the long run.

Download: ZeS Working Paper 04/2015

A new Project has been approved by the German Research Foundation

Loss of income, educational panic or burn-out problems in the middle classes keep making headlines. The question of whether the middle classes are disturbed in their 'comfort zone' and whether the seemingly self-evident security is no longer valid for their own children is the subject of various and controversial public debates. In fact, little is known about the lifestyle of the middle classes in Germany. Sociologists from various departments of the SOCIUM will now investigate in a research project recently approved by the German Research Foundation (DFG) which events and developments lead to insecurity and how middle class people deal with these irritations.

In the three-year study (funding volume approx. 400,000 euros) with the title "Investing in Status as a Mode of Living: Practices, Conditions, Disturbances" members of different subgroups of the middle class, also in comparison to members of lower classes, are intensively interviewed on several areas of life such as work, partnership, investments to find out to what extent irritations in these areas affect the entire lifestyle.

The study is part of a larger research programme prepared by Uwe Schimank, Betina Hollstein and Karin Gottschall in collaboration with other sociologists at the University of Bremen and beyond. In addition to the qualitative study mentioned above, in which the postdoctoral researchers and doctoral students Nils C. Kumkar, Rixta Wundrak and Stefan Holubek will also be involved, further projects will investigate the lifestyle of the middle classes in a representative, longitudinal and international comparative manner.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Karin Gottschall
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58595
E-Mail: karin.gottschall@uni-bremen.de

Prof. Dr. Betina Hollstein
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 9
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58512
E-Mail: betina.hollstein@uni-bremen.de

Prof. Dr. Uwe Schimank
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 9
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58564
E-Mail: uwe.schimank@uni-bremen.de

Edited by Stephan Leibfried, Evelyne Huber, Matthew Lange, Jonah D. Levy, Frank Nullmeier, and John D. Stephens.

This Handbook offers a comprehensive treatment of transformations of the state, from its origins in different parts of the world and different time periods to its transformations since World War II in the advanced industrial countries, the post-Communist world, and the Global South.

Leading experts in their fields, from Europe and North America, discuss conceptualizations and theories of the state and the transformations of the state in its engagement with a changing international environment as well as with changing domestic economic, social, and political challenges. The Handbook covers different types of states in the Global South (from failed to predatory, rentier and developmental), in different kinds of advanced industrial political economies (corporatist, statist, liberal, import substitution industrialization), and in various post-Communist countries (Russia, China, successor states to the USSR, and Eastern Europe). It also addresses crucial challenges in different areas of state intervention, from security to financial regulation, migration, welfare states, democratization and quality of democracy, ethno-nationalism, and human development.

The volume makes a compelling case that far from losing its relevance in the face of globalization, the state remains a key actor in all areas of social and economic life, changing its areas of intervention, its modes of operation, and its structures in adaption to new international and domestic challenges.

Download:
Table of Contents

More information:
Oxford University Press


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Frank Nullmeier
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58576
E-Mail: frank.nullmeier@uni-bremen.de

Prof. Dr. Stephan Leibfried
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58606
E-Mail: stlf@uni-bremen.de

Karl Hinrichs: In the Wake of the Crisis: Pension Reforms in Eight European Countries

The 2008 financial market crisis, followed by the Great Recession and sovereign debt crises in several EU countries have triggered drastic reforms of old-age security systems. They were supposed to ensure the financial viability of public pension schemes in the short and long run and/or to realize notions of intergenerational fairness. Most urgently, however, was regaining room for fiscal manoeuvre and obtaining financial aid from supranational organizations (such as IMF or EU).

These pension reforms differ from previous changes with regard to their scope and the political process.
(1) They were large, thus causing a substantial and immediate impact on the living conditions of present and future retirees and, sometimes, changed the hitherto pursued policy direction.
(2) The post-2008 reforms swiftly passed the legislative process and were implemented at short notice. Hence, they can be considered as "rapid policy changes".

This paper analyses pension reforms in eight crisis-shaken EU countries: Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, and Spain. It explores both reform contents and circumstances which led to the respective changes or facilitated them. As is shown, the challenges, which those countries were (or still are) confronted with, allowed or enforced alterations that would not have been feasible otherwise, or which would rather not have been initiated by the respective governments with regard to the political consequences. Moreover, cross-national comparison reveals similarities and differences and also sheds light on the social consequences that are already visible today.

Download: ZeS Working Paper 01/2015

Professor Stefan Traub, Spokesman of the new research groupProfessor Stefan Traub, Spokesman of the new research group
Centre for Social Policy Research contributes spokesman and two projects.

On its October meeting, the Senate of the German Reserach Foundation (DFG) approved setting up a new research group "Needs-based Justice and Distribution Procedures" (FOR 2104) at the University of Bremen. The interdisciplinary research group is a cooperation between eleven philosophers, political scientists, psychologists, sociologists and economists from the Universities of Bremen, Hamburg, Oldenburg, Vienna and Jacobs University Bremen. Economist Professor Stefan Traub, co-director of ZeS' Economics Department, will serve as the spokesman of the research group. Moreover, the University of Bremen is involved in the group with political scientists Professor Frank Nullmeier and Doctor Tanja Pritzlaff, both from ZeS' Theory and Constition of the Welfare State Department, and Philosopher Professor Dagmar Borchers.

In the first three-year funding phase (2015-2017) the research group will investigate how needs are identified at the individual level and how these needs are then acknowleged at the societal level. Does the process of acknowledging needs converge to a stable equilibrium? What is the impact of needs-based redistribution in terms of economic incentives on the sustainability of welfare states? A special feature of the research group is its interdisciplinarity: each project involves at least two disciplines. Furthermore, all projects will conduct laboratoy experiments, where subjects make realistic distribution decisions. In the long run the research groups aims at formulating a normative needs-based theory of distributional justice that is based on experimental evidence. The members of the research group expect transparency to increases the acceptance of needs-based redistribution at the individual level and expertise to improve overall approval for needs-based redistribution in the welfare state.

A DFG research group is a close collaboration of a group of outstanding researchers that work jointly on a specific research questions. Research topic, timeline and funding exceed DFG 's standard procedure for research funding by far. Research groups are usually funded for six years and aim at establishing new research fields.

At this point of time the exact size of the DFG grant is unknown, because the written confirmation is still due.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Stefan Traub

Book cover: Problem Altersarmut?Book cover: Problem Altersarmut?
Dissertation of Magnus Brosig published in ZeS book series.

The dissertation of Magnus Brosig (accepted in December 2013) has now been published as part of the ZeS book series on August 14th.

While to date, social science research concerned with 'new old-age poverty' has focused on problems and possible solutions, this study extends that strand of research by analysing the pertinent ideas of parties and associations, illustrating basic values, corresponding problems and output preferences, and finally deriving 'corridors of reform' in the field of pension policy.

All in all, it finds that a pronounced institutional conservatism makes reforms catering to the needs of people with discontinuous careers very much unlikely. In fact, a large majority of actors shows no interest in unconditional prevention of old-age poverty, but rather seeks to improve the situation of those considered to be 'guiltless victims' of previous pension cuts. Therefore, the political debate on poverty in old age does not fundamentally centre on problems faced by individuals, but on the 'collective' issue of legitimacy of the compulsory pension system which is commonly expected to continue to reward substantial social security contributions with adequate benefits and thus to remain clearly different from the social assistance scheme.


Contact:
Dr. Magnus Brosig

Documentation of the 26th Bremer Universitäts-Gespräche (Bremer University-Talks) has been published.

The discussions of academics as well as economic, social and political representatives on “Die Zukunft des Sozialstaates” (The Future of the Welfare State) are now publicly available in a documented way.

Frank Nullmeier and Herbert Obinger, both professors at the Centre for Social Policy Research (ZeS) at the University of Bremen, were in charge for the scientific coordination of the 26th Bremer Universitäts-Gespräche in November 2013.

Six keynote speeches allowed controversial discussions on: effects and impacts of the financial and Euro crises on social policy, new and old inequalities as well as the ‘social investment state’ as one way out.

The documentation contains contributions by Klaus Armingeon, Werner Eichhorst, Armin Schäfer, Waltraut Schelkle, Friedrich Breyer, Rita Nikolai, Marius R. Busemeyer and Heiko Staroßom.

The documentation “Die Zukunft des Sozialstaates“ (only in German) is now available at the publishing company.

Further information:
Isensee Verlag
26. Bremer Universitäts-Gespräche 2013, Wolfgang-Ritter-Stiftung Bremen


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Frank Nullmeier
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58576
E-Mail: frank.nullmeier@uni-bremen.de

Prof. Dr. Herbert Obinger
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58567
E-Mail: herbert.obinger@uni-bremen.de

Frank Nullmeier: Out of the Public Eye - The International Labour Organisation in the Media

Politics takes place in public communication and is part of public communication. Today, public communication is substantially determined by the media. This is also the case for the field of global social policy. The following study addresses the question of how global social policy and, in particular, the International Labour Organization (ILO) as the key player in global social policy, is discussed in the media.

  • Are global social policy and the ILO visible at all in the media?
  • To what extent is the organisation visible?
  • How do the media report about the ILO and on what exactly does media coverage of the ILO focus?

Download: ZeS Working Paper 01/2014