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

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Research Network starts its discussions.

The research network "On the Road to Valuation Society" has started its work with its first meeting on July 12th and 13th. The network assembles researchers focussing on different phenomena of valuation - from intimate valuation to peer review - to develop a theoretical perspective on valuation in society. Together with Prof. Dr. Tanja Bogusz (Kassel) and Prof. Dr. Michael Hutter (Berlin) the network  discussed "Theories of Valuation" to prepare for its further work.


Contact:
Dr. Thorsten Peetz
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 9
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58594
E-Mail: peetz@uni-bremen.de

From left to right: Patricia Zauchner, Tanja Pritzlaff and Frank Nullmeier.From left to right: Patricia Zauchner, Tanja Pritzlaff and Frank Nullmeier.
The German Research Foundation (DFG) has approved the continuation of the research group "Need-based justice and dIstribution procedures" (FOR 2104) for another three years.

The University of Bremen is represented by Prof. Frank Nullmeier und PD Dr. Tanja Pritzlaff-Scheele (both SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy) leading the subproject “Experimental studies on the stability of need-based justice in transnational contexts”. For the next three years (April 2018 to March 2021) the project will be dedicated to experimental methods, questions on global justice, political ethics of migration and a fair development policy.

In total, the research group comprises eight subprojects, which are located at the Universities of Bremen, Hamburg, Oldenburg, Vienna (Austria), the Jacobs University Bremen, the Helmut-Schmidt-Universität Hamburg and the University of Applied Sciences Chur (Switzerland). The spokesperson of the research group is Prof. Stefan Traub (formerly University of Bremen, currently Helmut-Schmidt-Universität Hamburg). The subprojects of the research group will receive around 2.4 million Euros in total.

More information:
Website Research Group "Bedarfsgerechtigkeit und Verteilungsprozeduren" (FOR 2104)


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

Cover application CRC 1342 Cover application CRC 1342 "Global Dynamics of Social Policy".
The German Research Foundation (DFG) has approved a new Collaborative Research Center (CRC) at the University of Bremen. Over the next four years, the CRC will receive approximately eleven million euros.

The CRC, mainly requested by scientists from the SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy and the InIIS (Institute for Intercultural and International Studies) is establishing a new research network in the field of social policy research in Bremen. Thus far, this research has focused heavily on the comparison of highly industrialized countries. In the new Collaborative Research Center, the development dynamics of social policy will be analyzed in a perspective that also encompasses the global South. The CRC’s research program will go above and beyond previous social policy research in several respects. First, the program will bring international connections and networks to the forefront of research. National social policy cannot be explained solely on the basis of domestic conditions. Trade relations, migration, war, and colonialism, as well as the worldwide spread of ideas and rules of law, are of great significance for the socio-political developments of individual countries. Second, research in the CRC will be based on a broad understanding of social policy, including, among other things, education policy. Third, the CRC will replace the nation-state internal orientation of social policy research with an interdependency-centered approach.

The research network will be composed of 15 sub-projects and divided into two project areas. Project area A will consist of six sub-projects, examining the dynamics of development in various fields of social policy worldwide and developing a "Global Welfare State Information System" (WeSIS) database to cover all fields. Project area B will consist of nine sub-projects, in which case study-centered, qualitative analyses will examine causal pathways between international links and socio-political development dynamics for groups of countries.

In addition to the SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy and the Institute for International and Intercultural Studies (InIIS), other institutes of the University of Bremen will also be involved: the Research Center for East European Studies, the Institute of History, the Institute of Geography, the Institute for Labour and Economy (IAW), the Center of European Law and Politics, and the Working Group Information Management of the Department of Computer Science. Other collaborators include: Jacobs University Bremen, the University of Duisburg-Essen and the University of Cologne. The start of the Collaborative Research Center is scheduled for early 2018.

With the Collaborative Research Centers, the DFG promotes interdisciplinary research programs at universities for up to 12 years. Currently, 267 Collaborative Research Centers are funded.

More information: 
Website of the CRC 1342: Global Development Dynamics in Social Policy


Contact:
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

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

MARDY: Modeling ARgumentation DYnamics in Political Discourse.

The German Research Foundation has granted Sebastian Haunss a research project within the Priority Programme "Robust Argumentation Machines (RATIO)" (SPP 1999). Under the heading »Modeling ARgumentation DYnamics in Political Discourse (MARDY)« the project aims to develop a framework for data-driven modeling of key aspects of argumentation dynamics in policy debates.

Within the next three years Sebastian Haunss will cooperate with the two computer scientists and computer linguists Jonas Kuhn and Sebastian Padó from the Institut für Maschinelle Sprachverarbeitung at the University of Stuttgart.

Further Information about the project:
Modeling ARgumentation DYnamics in Political Discourse (MARDY)


Contact:
PD Dr. Sebastian Haunss
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58572
E-Mail: sebastian.haunss@uni-bremen.de

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

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