GRADUATION TALK ▼

SOCIAL INVOLVEMENT WAS A WAY TO RETAIN MY INNER PEACE

AN INTERVIEW WITH UTA BREHM


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SHORT PROFILE

Name: Uta Brehm
Field: Sociology
Location: Wiesbaden, Germany
Occupation: Research Assistant at the Federal Institute for Population Research

+ Uta's Alumna Profile

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▐  Uta tells us how her upbringing influenced her research choices, how to speak up through social involvement, and about academia as an ivory tower and how she found her way to break through.

 

   What drew you to your current field and what interests you most about this field?

   U.B. I am from an area in Germany (the former GDR) in which mothers have traditionally been working full-time, despite their family and household responsibilities. When I left for West Germany to study at universities, I realized fully how this behavior runs contrary to that of most women here. Ever since, I have been interested in how norms and policies shape mothers' reconciliation behavior - and how many women on either side of the spectrum perceive their way to be completely natural and condemn the other way strongly.

 

   What motivates you to be socially involved, whilst writing your thesis and in general (pertaining to e.g. your work in the Student Council or your work with refugees)

   U.B. I quite literally can't hold my tongue or keep still if I feel something runs against principles of social cohesion or fairness. That might sound somewhat noble but I'm afraid it's actually pretty strenuous for others. So, my social involvement was a way to retain my inner peace - by contributing to softening the so-called "crisis" in Germany's refugee experience and by communicating issues directly to the body in charge.

 

    Does the interchange between academia and “the real world” take place and is it important?

   U.B. Let me start the other way around: It is immensely important. What's the point in studying society from a position that is detached from it, both in terms of understanding behaviors and, in turn, communicating conclusions? I feel, however, academia is very often an ivory tower: people from a very specific group who work and live in a very specific environment aim to explain (to one another?) the lives of people from very different groups and very different environments. Honestly, I wouldn't know how to resolve this discrepancy, we're human ourselves after all. But I am very aware of the problem.

 

   What is the next step in your career? Do you want to pursue an academic career?

   U.B. I've already taken the next step: I'm working at the Federal Institute for Population Research now. I have the impression that this job enables me to pursue an academic career while being able to communicate important issues to the body in charge and thus beyond academia's ivory tower - and there you go, the circle to the previous questions is now complete. ◼

 

 

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