InFER Research

InFER Research

Current Research Projects

Ministries of Finance and the Politics of Social Policy-Making

When interviewing policy-makers for a book on the role of public opinion for education policy-making (Busemeyer, Garritzmann, Neimmans 2020), our interview partners kept highlighting the role of Ministries of Finance (MoFs). This was unexpected, since MoFs are not recognized as an important actor in welfare state research. Against initial anecdotal evidence, this project systematically analyzes the role of MoFs for social policy-making. It theorizes that and why MoFs have become an increasingly important – but scholarly neglected – actor in the politics of social policy-making, and proposes a framework to empirically explore the (complex) mechanisms through which MoFs affect policies. We systematically study the policy impact of MoFs across countries, social policy areas, and over time, thereby connecting and expanding welfare state research, political economy, public policy, and public administration research. Empirically, we employ a multi-method design, systematically collecting information on the characteristics and powers of MoFs, conducting a new expert survey among social scientists on MoFs , and studying MoFs' role in social policy-making in comparative case studies.

Project Leader: Prof. Dr. Julian Garritzmann 
Duration: 2023 - 2025
Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)



DFG Research Group: IDEO-COUP

There is broad agreement that gender ideology (gender attitudes, norms, values) is closely linked with family- and employment related behaviors. A rich body of literature demonstrates such linkages, e.g. with respect to couples' paid and unpaid work-divisions, and to a lesser extent regarding family formation and dissolution. Yet, two major research gaps remain. The first is a theoretically underdeveloped couple perspective, the second concerns endogeneity in empirical studies. The project aims at addressing both issues. Hypotheses, research questions & objectives: 

First, although most research assumes that gender ideology affects couple-level outcomes (i.e. gendered work divisions in families, union trajectories, fertility), gender ideology of only one partner is typically measured. We center this project on the argument that both partners' ideologies need to be incorporated, and interactively so (ideological pairings) to fully capture gender ideologies' effects on such couple-level outcomes. More specifically, we hypothesize that whether partners agree or disagree on gender ideologies will matter for their work-divisions and family transitions. Ideological pairings will also mediate the effect of other factors, for instance partners' socio-economic resources, on the studied outcomes. Second, longitudinal studies using advanced methodology to account for reciprocal effects between ideologies and, for instance, gendered work-divisions, are rare. Thus, whether ideology is associated with work-divisions via causal linkages or via selection processes or reverse causality, remains to date unclear. We will address these open questions and provide both conceptual and empirical advances to the field, in four research packages. First, we develop an analytical and empirical framework to assess couples, as a meaningful unit, by drawing on life-course theory. To date such a framework is lacking in family demography and the gendered work-division literature. In a theoretical paper, we will provide such a conceptualization, with a specific focus on how individuals' and couples joint gender ideologies are intertwined with life course transitions, and couples' work divisions. Empirically, we will use several high-quality panel studies (e.g. HILDA, Pairfam, Swiss Household Panel, Understanding Societies) and cutting edge-methodology (latent class modeling, SEM, growth curve modeling, fixed effects) to examine, first, how ideological pairings in couples are distributed across time and space. Second, we will assess whether these pairings affect gendered paid and unpaid work divisions and family outcomes such as childbearing and union dissolution. Level of originality & innovation: Our project will be groundbreaking theoretically and empirically for both family demography and family sociology. Primary researchers involved: Natalie Nitsche and Daniela Grunow will lead the project as Co-PIs.    

DFG Research Group FOR 5173:

Reconfiguration and Internalization of Social Structure (RISS), Coordination project


Profound change in social structure has repercussions for social and political orientations. Social scientists have documented rising political alienation and polarization as well as the surfacing of new cleavages that challenge existing systems of resource allocation and representation. Relating these trends to underlying shifts in social structure poses a critical puzzle. How can we reconcile the notion of a dissolving 'individualized' social structure or the end of a 'politicized' social structure with humans' propensity to attach themselves to groups and with current social and political conflicts?

Social structural change and its connection to social and political orientations is more complex than research has commonly acknowledged. Established concepts of status inconsistency and cross-cuttingness produce contradictory predictions regarding the internalization of social structure and the prospects of social cohesion and political stability. RISS aims to resolve and settle this contradiction.

The RISS research unit brings together scholars of social structure with political sociologists and proposes a fresh view. Whereas the social structure has changed dramatically, it retains its power to shape the life and orientations of individuals. In order to grasp the social and political transformation of our times, we need to take a closer look at these new social structures and understand how they shape the views, beliefs and preferences of individuals.

The key to this understanding is to view social structure as fundamentally multidimensional where numerous social positions combine in intricate ways. Scholars have focused on single dimensions including education, socio-economic status, gender relations as well as migration and ethnic diversity. What we lack, is an understanding of how changes in these dimensions combine to produce reconfigurations in the current social structure. We also need to grasp how individuals internalize and make sense of these reconfigurations, especially new combinations of formerly disconnected social positions. And we must learn how these changes affect individual and collective behaviors and outcomes.

We aim to establish a multidimensional conceptualization of social-structural change and develop innovative empirical strategies to capture this complexity. The promise of our approach lies in the ability to build richer theories of how the social structure shapes individual and collective orientations and outcomes and, ultimately, in a better understanding of our troubled times. For more information, see press release .

Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Daniela Grunow
Co-Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Richard Traunmüller, University of Mannheim

Duration: 1.10.2021- 30.09.2025

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)


RISS Project No 1

CoRE - Conceptualising Reconfiguration for Empirical Research

This project takes up a special role within the RISS consortium. Following the joint key objectives of the research group, it will build a conceptual framework tying the different RISS subprojects together and, simultaneously, anchor the key theoretical concepts and mechanisms for analyzing the reconfiguring social structure and its effects on individuals' social identities within a state-of-the-art empirical foundation. Against this background, the projects' objectives are threefold. The first objective is to further develop and expand the multidimensional perspective on the reconfiguration and internalization of social structure. For this purpose, it conducts a theoretical-conceptual analysis that aims to integrate available approaches (including the concept of cross-cutting cleavages, status inconsistency and intersectionality) into a common multidimensional macro-meso-micro framework of social structure and how it relates to social identity. The theoretical implications of this framework for the social identification with society and specific societal subgroups will then be examined with a simulation study. The second objective is to coordinate and manage the data collection efforts related to the RISS Reconfiguration Data Set and the RISS Internalization Survey. These data sets are designed to study the reconfiguration and internalization of social structure from a multidimensional perspective. The RISS Reconfiguration Data Set will extract and pool information from secondary data on the multidimensional macro-level reconfiguration of the German social structure in the period 1980-2020. The RISS Internalization Survey' s main aim is to study individuals' internalization of the reconfigured social structure. It will collect cross-sectional data on a statistically representative sample of the German population and on selected oversamples of theoretically interesting target groups. Besides conventional questions on the socio-economic position, the survey will focus on innovative instruments for the measurement of social identity. The third objective is to address the key substantive issues raised by the RISS Main proposal using the collected data. Whereas the other individual RISS-projects will bring depth and (potentially) validity to the general RISS framework by applying it to particular societal topics or domains, this project will examine the key RISS propositions from an overarching perspective.


Project Leaders: Prof. Dr. Daniela Grunow; Yassine Khoudja, PhD., Prof. Dr. Richard Traunmüller (University of Mannheim)

Duration: 1.10.2021- 30.09.2025

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)

This project is part of the DFG Research Group RISS / FOR 5173.

RISS Project No 2

Intergenerational Transmission of Work-Family Trajectories in Germany

This project compares work-family trajectories of parents born in Germany between 1930 and 1949 with those of their adult children (born 1958-1981) and siblings' work-family and socio-economic status (SES) trajectories: mother-daughter, father-son, brother-brother, and sister-sister pairs, using the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). We aim to investigate the contributions of inter- and intragenerational similarity or divergence in trajectory patterns on the reconfiguration of social structure in Germany after reunification. With work-family trajectories, we mean sequences of marital status, parenthood, and the gendered division of labor. SES trajectories are sequences of educational attainment, occupational status, and income. We ask: 1) Under what conditions have sons and daughters reproduced or deviated from their fathers' and mothers' work-family trajectories? 2) Under what conditions are siblings' work-family and SES trajectories similar or different? Similarity in work-family and SES trajectories within and across generations depends partly on support from existing social structure. Tremendous recent economic, demographic, and cultural shifts in Germany suggest that children may not replicate parents' life course trajectories and resulting positions in the social structure, and that siblings may live very different life courses, with East-West differences likely. To compare trajectories, we attend to features such as movement or the lack thereof, the direction of movement, the sequence and timing of events and states, and rates of change. These features tell us how individuals move through and alter the social structure, not simply about the positions they occupy in it at certain times. We want to understand the reconfiguration of socio-structural dimensions of gender and SES in Germany in recent decades by highlighting the conditions that contribute to inter- and intragenerational dynamics in the Eastern and Western parts of Germany. For our empirical analysis, we use the SOEP: longitudinal survey data from a representative sample of about 11,000 German households and more than 20,000 persons. SOEP is well-suited for comparing parents and children and siblings because it allows survey respondents from two generations and siblings within one family to be linked and tracked longitudinally. To compare mother-daughter / father-son pairs, we employ data on children's employment and family history with retrospective data on employment and family history from their parents. To compare siblings, we employ data from individuals in the SOEP who were born in the same household to the same parents Data on both Eastern and Western Germany is available starting in 1990; we draw on data from that year to the present.
Project Leader: Prof. Heather Hofmeister, PhD.

Duration: 1.10.2021- 30.09.2025

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)

This project is part of the DFG Research Group RISS / FOR 5173.


RISS Project No 3

Internalized Gender and Parenting Norms: Assessing Reconfigurations between Gender, Socio-Economic Status and Immigrant Background

The project analyzes norms regarding gender and parenting which relate to the share and intensity of mothers' and fathers' allocations of time and (emotional) support for their children. Such norms seem to be highly contested in present societies – not only between but also within various social groups, e.g. between women and men, among the highly educated. We analyze in how far this situation can be explained by the socio-structural reconfiguration of gender, socioeconomic status (SES), and immigrant background. Multidimensional social changes have dramatically altered the covariance of these characteristics, potentially with severe repercussions for family life and gender relations. We investigate to what extent reconfiguration and cross-cutting of these characteristics resulted in new social identities, which can explain the variance and contestation regarding gender and parenting norms. In addition, we assess which social groups are better able to put their parenting preferences into practice. For the empirical analyses, we combine different data. The core of the project will be an own data collection as part of the RISS Internalization Survey. We plan to conduct an online survey with individuals from different educational and migration groups in order to maximize variation regarding parenting norms. New and innovative measures of individuals' social identities and their gender and parenting norms will be developed in this project. This data will allow for analyzing in detail how the cross-cutting of gender, SES, and immigrant background is represented in different social identities including sub-groups (e.g. identification as a female academic with Turkish origin), and how these (new) social identities are related to different gender and parenting norms. In addition, we will conduct a secondary analysis of the Panel Study “Labour Market and Social Security" (PASS) where we examine in how far parents manage to put their parenting norms into practice.

Project Leaders: Prof. Dr. Birgit Becker, Prof. Dr. Daniela Grunow

Duration: 1.10.2021- 30.09.2025

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)

This project is part of the DFG Research Group RISS / FOR 5173.


RISS Project No 4

The Role of Internalised Efficacy Beliefs for Participation in Education and Political Life

Due to processes of social change, particularly in terms of educational expansion and mass migration, not only can a general increase in higher secondary education be observed in recent decades, but also a reconfiguration of social origin, immigrant background and positioning in the German education system; more young people of a low social origin or with an immigrant background find themselves in higher secondary schools. However, this also results in more status inconsistencies, e.g., for adolescents from high-SES families with less successful school careers, or for students with an immigrant background who perform very well. In this project, we investigate how such contradictory influences in the family and in school affect adolescents' efficacy beliefs at different levels (personal, group, system), i.e. their belief regarding what they can achieve as an individual, as a member of a particular social group and within a certain social system. We consider schools to be crucial in this respect, since adolescents not only spend a lot of time at school during a very formative phase of their lives, but also because they have their first experiences with a social institution and its representatives (the teachers) there, and because they learn how they and their group are treated in this system. We assume that these experiences are not only influential for efficacy beliefs in the domain of education, but are also generalized to other social subsystems such as politics and therefore also affect individuals' behavior in various areas of life. Concretely, we examine 1.) how an advantaged vs. disadvantaged family background (operationalized by social origin and immigrant background) interacts with a successful (or less successful) educational career in shaping adolescents' (personal, group, system) efficacy beliefs in the educational domain, 2.) whether and how these efficacy beliefs developed in school are transmitted to the domain of politics and 3.) how these efficacy beliefs impact actual behavior (i.e. educational decisions and political participation). We examine these questions by combining our own data collection (as part of the RISS Internalization Survey) with the analysis of existing panel data. Research questions 1 and 2 are examined using the data from the RISS Internalization Survey, where we plan an online survey of around 3,000 15-17-year-old adolescents with new and innovative measures of efficacy beliefs. The implementation of efficacy beliefs in later behavior (Research Question 3) is examined both by using secondary data analyses and a panel-design aimed at re-interviewing our respondents after completion of secondary education and – depending on migration status - the acquisition of full citizenship rights.


Project Leaders: Prof. Dr. Birgit Becker, Prof. Sigrid Roßteutscher, PhD.

Duration: 1.10.2021- 30.09.2025

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)

This project is part of the DFG Research Group RISS / FOR 5173.


RISS Project No 5

Internalized Ethnic and Cultural Reconfiguration: Natives' Reactions to Increasingly Heterogeneous Immigrant Populations

This project investigates cultural and economic group conflicts between natives and immigrants and explores the consequences of such conflicts for redistributive preferences and social cohesion. These research fields gained considerable attention in recent years, particularly since recognized scholars claimed that immigration may be generally incompatible with a large welfare state and a cohesive society (Alesina & Glaeser 2004; Putnam 2007). The underlying argument behind these claims is that the characterization of immigrants as out-group members undermines natives' social trust and support for redistribution. As part of the RISS Research Unit, this project takes a fresh look at these prominent research topics by integrating them into the overarching theoretical framework of RISS. This framework emphasizes the interplay between the changing social structure at the macro-level and the social identity of actors at the micro-level. The data collection within the RISS project will provide innovative empirical measures of these two important concepts and thereby allow to contribute to the existing research from two directions. First, the role of the social-psychological process of social identification will be investigated and allow to better understand the process of in-group-out-group classifications. These psychological mechanisms reside at the micro-level foundation of the aforementioned claims. Second, the social structure at the macro-level will be measured as a multi-dimensional concept; thereby allowing to test how the integration of immigrants into various dimensions of the social structure mitigates the potentially conflict laden relationship between immigrants and natives. With increasing integration into the host societies, immigrants occupy more cross-cutting positions in the multi-dimensional social structure. This increasing heterogeneity within the immigrant population may reduce the saliency of group boundaries between immigrants and natives. Consequently, group conflicts, as well as their prominent consequences—such as decreasing social trust or reduced support for redistributive policies—may be generally reduced in a reconfigured social structure, where the vertical and horizontal dimensions become less associated. Using a complementary approach to the other projects in the RISS Research Unit, this proposal looks at the effects of the reconfiguration of social structure from a contextual perspective. The integration of immigrants into the multi-dimensional social structure will be measured at the contextual level. Employing multilevel models, the project will study how integration affects the relationship between immigrant presence and natives' in-group-out group classifications; and, consequently, their attitudes towards redistribution and their levels of social trust.

Project Leader: Prof. Dr. Alexander Schmidt-Catran

Duration: 1.10.2021- 30.09.2025

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)

This project is part of the DFG Research Group RISS / FOR 5173.


RISS Project No 6

The Impact of Social Structure, Discrimination and Violence on the German Muslim Community

Despite extensive research over the past decade, Muslims' strong preservation of religious traditions remains an unsolved puzzle in Western European immigration societies. A dominant explanation of religious identity is the discrimination or exclusion of Muslim immigrants by the majority population. However, beyond the often individually experienced discrimination in everyday situations, Muslim individuals are subject to a more severe and increasingly visible form of xenophobia: violence and acts of terror, which explicitly target Muslims indiscriminately. Moreover, radical Islamic terror organizations try to fuel this vicious cycle. Caught between a faction of radicalized Muslims as well as hostile, Islamophobic elements of the majority population, secular segments of the Muslim population are in an awkward position, where they feel resentment and pressure from different sides. Surprisingly, however, we have very little empirical research on how this two-pronged threat of violence affects Muslims in Germany. The proposed research project addresses core questions within this research gap: How does religiously motivated violence alter religious identity? How does identity, discrimination and violence affect civic or political behavior? And how do these reactions vary with the social position which individuals occupy? After all, social mobility has fundamentally altered and diversified German society, including the largest Muslim-origin immigrant group, the Turkish guestworker communities. Today, many Muslim-origin immigrants of all generations hold a wide range of positions in politics, economy and society, with the result that religion cross-cuts many other dimensions which are potentially relevant to individuals' social identity. We build on the theoretical framework of the overarching RISS research and expand it by illuminating how exogenous events, such as Islamist and anti-Muslim violence, perturb the association between social structure, identity and behavior. The proposed project examines these questions using an original survey of German Muslims, which we will collect as part of the RISS Internalization Survey. We rely on innovative measurement strategy using a conjoint experiment to estimate the importance of religion within individuals' multidimensional social identity. Furthermore, our proposed empirical analysis uses an experimental design to evaluate how social identity as well as political preferences and behavior are linked to perceptions of violence and discrimination.

Project Leaders: Prof. Sigrid Roßteutscher, PhD., Prof. Dr. Constantin Ruhe, Prof. Dr. Richard Traunmüller (University of Mannheim)

Duration: 1.10.2021- 30.09.2025

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)

This project is part of the DFG Research Group RISS / FOR 5173.

Value Conflict, Labour Division and Social Cohesion from a Gender Perspective

Gender is an important factor in achieving social cohesion. Gender relations, however, have been particularly affected by social change in recent decades. As a result, across Europe, various work-care models currently compete in terms of family and labour market policy. Related to this, both egalitarian and essentialist gender ideologies and family ideals have spread, whose social-structural foundations and consequences have not yet been researched. Against this background, this research project assesses first, whether the competing gender and family ideals are related to other values such as cultural openness or closure, solidarity and voting behaviour. Second, we ask whether the political mobilisation of gender issues by political parties leads to the establishment of a new political polarisation and how this relates to other cultural and socio-economic cleavages. Third, the project examines the determinants and consequences of different forms of labour division within families for the reproduction of social inequalities.

Project Leader: Prof. Dr. Daniela Grunow, Prof. Sigrid Roßteutscher, PhD

Duration: 01.03.2021 - 31.01.2024

Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung)


Does Europe grow together? Convergence and divergence of political attitudes in Europe

After Europe steadily converged since WW2, the last decade has revealed several serious challenges for a continuing European integration. In light of these developments, this project examines potential polarization and fragmentation trends in the public opinion in Europe. Attitudes towards four key political issues are at the center of the investigation: social inequality, gender relations, migration/cultural diversity and European integration.

Polarization- and fragmentation trends are examined from three analytical perspectives: First, we examine country differences in issue alignments, i.e. how attitudes towards the key political issues are entangled. Second, we compare distributions in political attitudes and their changes over the last decades between and within European countries. Third, we compare the structure of attitudes within individuals to identify political belief systems. The empirical basis for addressing these questions are representative cross-national surveys with repeated cross-sections (e.g. European Social Survey).

Project Leader: Yassine Khoudja, Phd, Prof. Dr. Daniela Grunow

Duration: 01.01.2021-31.12.2023

Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung), funding code 01UG2114


What can we agree upon? Theorizing and modelling peace agreement content, compromise ability and their effects on armed intrastate conflicts.

 Recent research argues that peace agreements in armed intrastate conflicts are more stable and prolong peace if they contain specific provisions, such as powersharing, justice measures or information-sharing mechanisms. Surprisingly, however, very little research analyzes when and why we see specific peace agreement content in the first place. This research project addresses these gaps and develops a comprehensive theoretical framework of peace negotiations, agreement content and their joint effect on conflict behavior in armed intrastate conflicts. To this end, it connects and expands research on mediation, peace agreements and disaggregated conflict dynamics. The framework generalizes insights from mediation research and argues that conflict parties' ability to reach a compromise is a central, but thus far unobserved variable, which determines both the content and the impact of peace agreements. The project will break new ground by developing a measurement model from the theoretical framework, which will enable us to quantify compromise ability in civil conflicts worldwide. Based on this new data, the project explains and models specific agreement content and its effects.

Project Leader: Prof. Dr. Constantin Ruhe

Duration: 1.1.2021-31.12.2023

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)


The Rural-Urban Divide in Europe (RUDE)


Rising populism and polarization, coupled with declining democratic legitimacy, all point toward a crisis in European democracies. This crisis has a regional dimension: a political and perhaps cultural divide between rural and urban areas. The project examines whether and how urban-rural residency is related to divides in legitimacy beliefs, social identities, perceptions of injustice and threat, political and social attitudes and political behaviour of European citizens. It explores “Democratic governance in a turbulent age" from different thematic angles. First, it deals with shifting identities and their consequences for democratic governance and political representation. Stable cleavages only emerge when struggles for identity are accompanied by perceptions of social inequality and unfair resource distribution. Second, it examines the role played by globalization: increasing rural-urban economic divides create social status threats which exacerbate rural-urban political divides. The project will combine a broad comparative study of all European countries with an in-depth analysis of five established European democracies. The project will result in the provision of significant new evidence on rural-urban disparities in European politics, which will allow us to examine the consequences of—and cures for—the current crisis of democracy, thereby engaging both academic and policymaking audiences.

The project “The Rural-Urban Divide in Europe (RUDE)" is financially supported by the NORFACE Joint Research Programme on Democratic Governance in a Turbulent Age and co-funded by DFG and the European Commission through Horizon 2020 under grant agreement No 822166.

International cooperation partners are: Christopher Claassen (University of Glasgow), UK, Markus Freitag (University of Berne, Switzerland), Guillem Rico (Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain), Sonja Zmerli (Université Grenoble-Alpes, France)

Project Leader: Prof. Sigrid Roßteutscher, PhD, Jun.-Prof. Dr. Kathrin Ackermann (University of Heidelberg) and Prof. Dr. Richard Traunmüller (University of Mannheim)

Duration: 1.1.2021 –31.12.2023

Funding: Norface, European Commission, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)

Click here for more information


 InFER members prepare Special Issue on Social Integration


Daniela Grunow and Richard Traunmüller (InFER and RISC-Frankfurt) are currently preparing a Special Issue on Social Integration, to appear in the Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie in 2023. This is a joint collaboration with Patrick Sachweh and Uwe Schimank (University of Bremen and RISC-Bremen). The special issue (SI) picks up recent political discussions about problems of social solidarity, social cohesion and social trust (in German framed under the heading of “gesellschaftlicher Zusammenhalt") reflected especially by growing right-wing populism in many European countries. It reframes these discussions sociologically by translating the problem into a well-established sociological research tradition on social integration. On the one hand, this reframing enables us to respond to urgent political debates as sociologists with an analytical distance founded in the discipline's theoretical concepts and empirical research methods. On the other hand, we put the phenomenon of current right-wing populism into the broader context of a variety of other dimensions of social integration, such as rising inequality, increasing ethnic and religious diversity, a polarization of labor market risks and overall tendencies of individualization and pluralization.

In preparation of the special issue, the editors will host a two-day conference at the Goethe-University of Frankfurt, at which first drafts of the papers for the Special Issue will be discussed. The conference will be supported centrally by the newly founding RISC, the RISC-Frankfurt division and the RISC-Bremen division. Dates: 3 - 4 June 2021. Location: University of Frankfurt.

Project Leader: Prof. Dr. Daniela Grunow, Prof. Dr. Richard Traunmüller (University Mannheim)


PRODEM: Protests and Democracy: How Movement Parties, Social Movements and Active Citizens are Reshaping Europe (2011-2019)

The project investigates the ways in which interactions between citizens, social movements, and a specific breed of political party—the so-called 'movement parties'—influence democratic quality in several countries of the European Union. In the context of the European financial, economic, and migration crises, mass protests since 2011 have engendered new social movements and political parties. The team aims to comparatively assess the medium- and long-term effects of this triple interaction between citizens, social movements, and movement parties in Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania, and the UK between the peak of the global wave of protests in 2011 and 2019. The project will develop new insights by combining concepts from social movement studies, political behaviour and party politics, political culture, critical theory, media studies, and policy analysis. It will use an innovative cross-national, multimethod research design, bridging qualitative and quantitative approaches with computational, set-theoretical, and critical methods in order to map contextual conditions, cross-national, cross-issue, and social network patterns that can enhance democratic quality.

Project Leader: Prof. Dr. Claudius Wagemann, Dr. Toma Burean (Universitatea Babes-Bolyai), Dr. Dan Mercea (City, University of London), Prof. Dr. Lorenzo Mosca (Università degli Studi di Milano), Prof. Dr. Christina Neumayer (IT University of Copenhagen).

Duration: 1.10.2020-30.9.2023

Funding: Volkswagenstiftung

InFER members cooperate in the newly founding Research Institute Social Cohesion (RISC)

The Research Institute Social Cohesion (RISC) starts working in June 2020. The researchers from the Frankfurt RISC division are analysing new forms of social diversity and their impact on social conflicts. “Half of the projects at the Frankfurt division are headed by InFER members. That is a great research success for the empirical-analytical research in Frankfurt, which shows the potential for scientific cooperation at our faculty", says Daniela Grunow, professor of sociology specialising in quantitative analyses of social change, director of InFER (jointly with Markus Gangl) and co-speaker of the Frankfurt division of RISC (jointly with Nicole Deitelhoff, speaker, and Rainer Forst, co-speaker). For more information about this research cooperation, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), please visit this website.

You will find more information about the InFER projects of the Frankfurt RISC division here shortly.

Project Leader: Prof. Dr. Nicole Deitelhoff (speaker), Prof. Dr. Rainer Forst (co-speaker), Prof. Dr. Daniela Grunow (co-speaker)

Duration: 01.06.2020 - 31.05.2024

Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)


POLAR: Polarization and its discontents: does rising economic inequality undermine the foundations of liberal societies?


The project examines the relationship between rising economic inequality and some of the foundational elements of liberal societies. Specifically, the project will provide new empirical evidence on the negative “Spirit Level" relationships between inequality and social mobility, support for democracy, and social cohesion in affluent Western countries. The challenge addressed by the project is foremost empirical: for each of these dimensions, there are straightforward theoretical arguments to link rising inequality with declining societal openness. In each case, there also is widely-known empirical evidence to support a negative relationship in bivariate cross-sectional cross-country data. In each case, however, the best available research that uses longitudinal data to identify the impact of inequality from within-country changes over time more often than not fails to confirm Spirit Level-type negative relationships. To possibly reconcile the discrepancies and to adjudicate the substantive question with new data, the project will combine survey microdata across more than 30 countries and over an observation window that ideally extends back to the 1970s in order to gain leverage for an encompassing and stringently longitudinal empirical analysis. Based on this database, the project will provide detailed analyses of inequality trends, a disaggregated description of trends in social mobility, social cohesion and support for democratic governance, and a differentiated causal analysis of the role of economic inequality for some of the fundamental dimensions of liberal Western societies. An important goal of the research will be to establish where and when negative effects of rising inequality are occurring, and to possibly identify societal and institutional sources of resilience from our analyses.

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 833196).

Principal Investigator: Markus Gangl

Team: Simon Bienstman, Carlotta Giustozzi, Svenja Hense

Duration: 01.04.2020-30.03.2025

Funding: European Research Council

Firms and gender differences in job mobility: A study of the role of personnel practices and organizational context with German linked employer-employee data

The project examines how firms shape men and women's career pathways in Germany. We specifically focus on the role of personnel policies, notably their degree of formalization and the extent of companies' commitment to support women's careers, and on the role of the broader organizational context, notably in terms of its occupational structure, the extent of establishment-level gender pay gaps and women's representation in management positions. We seek to evaluate the effects of these organizational features on various aspects of men and women's careers, including gender gaps in starting pay, gender gaps in rates of firm-internal promotions, gender gaps in access to management positions, and gender gaps in turnover. In our empirical analyses, we utilize the IAB's linked employer-employee data (LIAB) to estimate the effects of firm context on job mobility behavior and job mobility outcomes, and then rely on representative household data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP) to estimate the net contribution of gender differentials in job mobility events to the overall gender pay gap in Germany. In our statistical analyses, we will employ a mix of econometric approaches, including hierarchical linear models for panel data, hierarchical event history models, and Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition techniques.

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Markus Gangl

 Duration: 01.10.2017-31.12.2021

 Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)

School change in a society shaped by migration – school culture(s) in the current context of forced migration

In recent years, schools in Germany have taken in many children and adolescents with refugee experience. The schools have reacted in different ways and they continue to respond differently with this pedagogical, organizational, and didactic challenge. The study takes these different responses as a starting point. We assume that in the current immigration situation schools particularly push such measures that are intended to improve academic success and the social inclusion of refugees in the school. Research on social inclusion and the participation in the school of immigrant students usually focuses on learning and individual development instead of the developmental potential of institutions. The project SchuWaMi is interested in the role of school cultures and their institutional conditions. The integration of children and adolescents with refugee experiences is shaped by school cultures, but these cultures are not static and can change when admitting refugee children and adolescents. SchuWaMi also assesses effects on the social inclusion and participation in the school of refugee students, working interdisciplinary, longitudinally and with a mixed-methods research design.
The project examines how schools in Germany have reacted to the increased reception of refugee children and youths, which institutional changes have taken place and are still taking place in this context. It also looks at whether and how schools succeed in promoting the social participation of children and youths with a refugee background.

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Birgit Becker, Prof. Dr. Dominique Rauch (DIPF), Dr. Patricia Stošić (FB04), Dr. Svenja Vieluf  (DIPF)

Duration: 01.09.2018-31.08.2022

Funding: Federal Ministry for Education and Research

GOVRUS - Variations of Governance in Hybrid Regimes: Business, State and Civil Society in Russia

This project examines the role of Russian and international companies in the framework of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Russia. It studies the forms of interaction / governance that emerge between companies and state as well as non-state actors. Of particular importance is the question of how these governance patterns can be interpreted against the background of path-dependent developments and the emergence of novel forms of business-state cooperation. The analysis mainly focuses on the branches of the oil and gas industry, trade as well metallurgy in the regions of Volgograd, Tyumen and Kemerovo. In terms of methodology, the project combines a case study design with a qualitative comparative analysis (QCA).

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Claudius Wagemann, Prof. Dr. Katharina Bluhm (FU Berlin), Prof. Dr. Sabine Kropp (FU Berlin)

Duration: 01.04.2018-31.03.2021

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)

FAMILY FRIENDLY Firms & Careers: The influence of family-friendly measures in companies on mothers' and fathers' employment behaviour – an empirical analysis with linked employer-employee-data.

The project focuses on in-plant family friendly measures aiming to improve the compatibility of family and work. Family-friendly policies are not only a fundamental topic in labour market and family policy, but are also an inherent feature of personnel policies in companies. While there is ample research on the impact of family policies on individual careers, research on in-plant measures and their effects is lacking. The project utilizes existing linked-employer-employee-data of the Federal Employment Agency (IAB), which allow for analyzing the interdependencies between in-plant family friendly measures, family policies and regional context on individual employment decisions.  

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Daniela Grunow

Duration: 01.04.2017-31.12.2019

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)

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Organizational Structure, Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality in Germany: an Empirical Study Using Linked Employer-Employee Data

The project addresses the role of firms for wage inequality in the German labor market. Specifically, our research focuses on firm-level sources of skill-based wage differentials and aims to understand the contribution of relevant changes in firms' behavior and organization to the rise of wage inequality in Germany since the 1990s. The project will quantify the extent to which changing wage differentials have primarily been driven by changes in worker assignment or changes in firm-level wage policies, and will seek to identify empirically relevant organization-level correlates. Furthermore, the project will evaluate the causal role of technological and organizational change, including potential interactions between both components. In particular, our research aims for estimates of the effects of technology investments and firms' use of non-standard contracts for skill-based wage differentials, and also seeks to estimate potential interactions with the presence of unions, corporate financial strategy and legal type of corporation. To achieve these goals, we will use the IAB's LIAB linked employer-employee dataset augmented with job task data from the BIBB-IAB Qualification Surveys, and will rely on different variants of multilevel (hierarchical linear, random coefficient) modeling as well as fixed-effects estimators in its statistical analyses. The project is part of the German Science Foundation's Priority Program 1764.

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Markus Gangl

Duration: 01.01.2015-31.12.2017

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)

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CORRODE: Corroding the social? An empirical evaluation of the relationship between unemployment and social stratification in OECD countries

The project aims to deliver a comprehensive evaluation of the relationship between unemployment and social stratification in Europe and North America. Our core goal is to provide empirical estimates of the causal impact of unemployment on four critical domains of social life, namely household incomes, demographic behaviour, educational attainment, as well as social integration and civic participation. Our research will examine the persistence of such effects in the medium and longer run, and will evaluate the role of moderating factors like coupled unemployment and unemployment duration. The distinction between the stratification impacts of household experiences of unemployment and those of aggregate macroeconomic conditions will be a particular focus in the analysis, as will be the evaluation of a mediation model including changing household incomes, changing economic expectations and changing norms and preferences as relevant factors. The project will also address heterogeneity in the effects of unemployment e.g. by level of education, household demographics, household income or social class, and will evaluate the extent of cross-country variation in the impacts of unemployment, as well as any mitigating role of labour market and social policies, along the four dimensions of stratification considered. The empirical analysis rests on cross-nationally harmonized multilevel life course datasets constructed from various representative household panel studies, notably the EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), the European Community Household Panel (ECHP) and several national panel studies, merged with time-series data on aggregate unemployment at the regional level. To achieve robust causal inference, the project utilizes multilevel panel data modelling, notably two-way fixed-effects and related estimators that statistically control for unobserved heterogeneity at both the household and contextual level.

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Markus Gangl

Duration: 01.09.2014-31.08.2019

Funding: European Research Council (ERC)

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The German Labor Market in a Globalized World: Challenges through Trade, Technology and Demographics, DFG Priority Program 1764

The central purpose of the Priority Programme is to develop a deeper understanding of the challenges facing labour markets in Germany in particular and throughout Europe in a global context. The programme addresses pertinent research issues on the link between trade, technology, and demographic changes as they affect wages and employment. In an international perspective, the programme will analyse empirically the way the German labour market works with particular emphasis on labour market flows, on the role of institutions and policies, on the explanation for the increase in inequality, on demographic changes, and on the links to education and important non-economic motives and outcomes. An understanding of these issues is key for policies relating to skills development of the population at all ages, family issues and gender in the labour market, demography, child development, health, social policies, crime, immigration, as well as the macroeconomic performance of the labour market. The challenges posed by competition and potential immigration combined with demographic developments will not only affect various labour market groups in different ways (with important consequences for inequality), but also force human resource management practices to adapt.

Speaker: Prof. Bernd Fitzenberger, PhD (HU Berlin)

Steering Board: Prof. Bernd Fitzenberger, PhD (HU Berlin), Gerard van den Berg (University of Bristol), Christian Dustmann (University College London), Markus Gangl, Alexandra Spitz-Oener (HU Berlin)

Duration: 01.09.2014-31.12.2020

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)

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German Longitudinal Election Study (GLES)

As part of their “long-term funding Humanities", the German Research Foundation is promoting the German Longitudinal Election Study (GLES). This project examines the 2009, 2013 and 2017 parliamentary elections. Since the beginning of the 21st century, a profound change in the German political process can be observed which affects voters, parties, their candidates, as well as their election campaigns, and not least, the mass media. Together, they have led to a considerable increase in the fluidity and instability of the electoral process, with potentially far-reaching implications for representative democracy in Germany. Looking at the Bundestag elections in 2009, 2013 and 2017, the GLES aims to investigate how today's more mobile electorate responds to the challenges of this new, very complex constellation of electoral politics.

Project leader: Prof. Sigrid Roßteutscher, PhD, Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Schmitt-Beck (University of Mannheim), Prof. Dr. Harald Schoen (Mannheim Centre for European Social Research, ), Prof. Dr. Bernhard Weßels (Social Science Research Center Berlin) and Prof. Dr. Christof Wolf (GESIS)

Duration: 2009-2021

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)

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Recently completed


Preschool Education and Educational Careers among Migrant Children (ESKOM-Ü4)


The project addresses the educational decision between different tracks of secondary education in German and Turkish-origin families.

The foundation for ethnic educational inequality is set early in life. The previous project “Preschool Education and Educational Careers among Migrant Children" has shown that ethnic gaps in children's skills already exist at an early age in different domains. These gaps are only partly reduced until school entry. Thus, children of immigrants usually start their school career with a clear disadvantage. The present project now aims at analyzing the longer-term consequences of these early skill differences for the educational careers of migrant children. The existing panel of about 1,000 children (half of them of Turkish origin) will be continued until a decision for a track of secondary education is made in grade four. A main research question of the project is whether differences in children's competencies in preschool age (especially regarding German language skills) have consequences for this educational decision or whether primary school can compensate for initial differences in children's skills and which factors are crucial for this process. In addition, the project analyzes whether preschool attendance has a (probably indirect) influence on the educational decision in grade four and whether this influence is stronger for children of immigrants compared to children of native-born parents.

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Birgit Becker, Prof. Dr. Hartmut Esser (Mannheim)

Duration: 2012-2018

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)

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Risk factors at school entry (RiSE)

The project RiSE deals with ethnic and social inequalities at school entry. Most children in Germany start school regularly after they have reached school age according to a certain cut-off date. School enrolment can be delayed in case the child lacks important competencies for school readiness. It is well-known that delayed enrolment disproportionally more often concerns so called "children at risk", for instance children with a weak socio-economic and/or migration background. However, only little is known about the underlying determinants and mechanisms of this phenomenon so far. The main question of the project is whether social and ethnic differences in the probability for delayed school entry can be exclusively explained by differences in competencies or whether further mediating factors can be identified. Furthermore, the role of several stakeholders such as nursery school teachers, headmasters and (school) doctors will be investigated. Various datasets will be used for secondary data analyses.

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Birgit Becker

Duration: 2012-2018

Funding: LOEWE, IDeA

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A comparative analysis of working poverty in Israel and Germany: household demographics, labor market structure and work commitment

The project conducted for a comparative empirical analysis of the structure and trends in working poverty in Israel and Germany. Both countries have seen rising incidence rates of working poverty over the past two decades, yet there is a remarkable lack of consensus on the underlying causes in the social science literature so far. Against that background, the project draws on harmonized data from nationally representative household surveys in the two countries, notably the Israeli Social Survey, the Israeli Income Survey and the German Socio-Economic Panel, to systematically and simultaneously examine the role of household and work force demographics, the exposure of structural labor market locations defined by occupation, industry and type of contract, and work commitment, work histories and work values. The project employed a relative income poverty framework, suitable regression modeling and decomposition techniques for categorical dependent variables in its statistical analysis.

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Markus Gangl, Dr. Asaf Levanon (University of Haifa)

Duration: 01.04.2014-31.03.2017

Funding: German-Israeli Foundation for Research and Development

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APPARENT Project. International and national studies of norms and gender division of labor in the transition to parenthood.

The APPARENT project studied currently prevailing parenting norms and standards; especially their creation, dissemination and practical relevance for gendered divisions of work in several European countries. The focus was on constructions of motherhood and fatherhood by experts, welfare states and the mass media. The project assessed to what extent these cultural and institutional norms are embodied by nascent parents and how norms impact the sharing of paid and unpaid work among fathers and mothers.

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Daniela Grunow

Duration: 01.01.2011-31.12.2016

Funding: European Research Council (ERC)

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