Master of Arts in Politics with Focus on Political Sociology


The key focus of political sociology is above all on the attitudes/positions and behavior of individual and collective actors such as parties. Within this, the causes and consequences of political attitudes/positions and conduct/activities are a central concern, as are the connections between the individual and structural levels. Why does a person vote? What attitudes lead to discriminatory behavior with respect to migrants? Why do parties adopt positions opposing European integration? To what extent can parties shape national identities? These and similar questions are considered in a comparative perspective. In this context, Western countries are compared above all, but regional or local differences are also researched. In addition to general issues from political sociology, a focus is also placed on the topics of migration, citizenship, xenophobia/Islamophobia, cosmopolitanism and right-wing populism.

Research and education profile

In its research and teaching, the chair connects political science research into attitudes and behavior with questions and perspectives from political communication, political economy, and political psychology. There are also close connections with the subject of comparative political science, which addresses the topics of political parties and political representation of citizens from immigrant and minority backgrounds among other things.

The work on the substantive questions of political sociology is linked with research on empirical methods in political science. In this context, various advanced quantitative methods are in the foreground. A special focus is placed on survey, laboratory, and field experiments. Qualitative methods and theoretical work will, however, also be addressed in the substantive seminars.

The teaching will be closely connected to the current research in international political sociology, but also to the national and international research projects of the chair. Students will be encouraged to use accessible data sets for the seminar projects and theses.

Using surveys and survey experiments, attitudes to migrants, and in particular Muslims and their religious rights and practices, will be studied.

  • Sarah Carol, Marc Helbling and Ines Michalowski (2015): “A struggle over religious rights? How Muslim minorities and natives view the accommodation of religious rights in six European countries”, Social Forces (forthcoming).
  • Marc Helbling (2014): “Opposing Muslims and the Muslim Headscarf in Western Europe”, European Sociological Review 30(2): 242-257.
  • Michael Bechtel, Jens Hainmüller, Dominik Hangartner and Marc Helbling (2015): “Reality Bites: The Limits of Framing Effects in Salient Policy Decisions”, Political Science Research and Methods (forthcoming).

The central emphasis is on the positions and framing strategies of political parties (above all in the field of migration) and their effects on individual attitudes.

  • Marc Helbling, Tim Reeskens and Dietlind Stolle (2015): “Political Mobilizing, Cultural Diversity and Social Cohesion. The Conditional Effect of Political Parties”, Political Studies 63(1): 101-120.
  • Marc Helbling, Dominic Höglinger and Bruno Wüest (2010): “How Political Parties Frame European Integration”, European Journal of Political Research 49(4): 495-521.
  • Marc Helbling (2013): “Framing Immigration in Western Europe”, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 40(1): 21-41.

In this area, the focus will be placed on the quantitative measurement of immigration and citizenship policies as well as the causes and consequences of these policies.

  • Marc Helbling (2013): “Validating Integration and Citizenship Policy Indices”, Comparative European Politics 11(5): 555-576.
  • Marc Helbling, Liv Bjerre, Friedreike Römer and Malisa Zobel (2015): “Measuring Immigration Policies: The IMPIC-Database”, European Political Science (forthcoming).
  • Martin Dolezal, Marc Helbling and Swen Hutter (2010): “Debates over Islam in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland: Between Ethnic Citizenship, State-Church Relations and Right-Wing Populism”. West European Politics 33(2): 171-190.