Third-party funded projects

Acceptance of social and labor market policy measures and regulations

Funding: BMAS

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Olaf Struck, Prof. Dr. Gesine Stephan (IAB), Dr. Christopher Osiander (IAB)

Project term: 2019 - 2022

The project analyzes the acceptance of current and concrete arrangement alternatives of unemployment insurance and basic social security among different groups and affected persons. For this purpose, specific and systematically varied short scenarios (so-called vignettes) are presented to persons to be interviewed, which describe different regulation options and which are then to be judged. For analyses explaining these judgments, socio-demographic characteristics, forms of one's own affectedness by welfare state redistributions and measures, as well as general value attitudes and personality traits are included. Online surveys are a central component of the project. The contact data for this will be drawn from the process data of the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit BA), with which the survey data will also be linked.

Blended Learning in the Digital Lab Professional Worlds

Funding: Stiftung Innovation der Hochschullehre

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Olaf Struck

Project term: 2021 - 2024

As part of the joint project „Digitale Kulturen der Lehre entwickeln“ (DiKule), this sub-project is researching various forms of Blended Learning. In teaching, teaching formats and thus content and proportions of on-siteevents and e-learning are systematically varied and evaluated. The aim is, among other things, to investigate the conditions for more extensive learning time with simultaneous enjoyment of learning as well as the increase in professional or social competencies.

Digital cooperation systems in medium-sized companies: innovative communication and cooperation processes in the digital working world (KoMiK)

Funding: BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research)

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Olaf Struck, Dr. Klaus Schmierl (ISF München), Prof. Dr. Alexander Pflaum (ZIO - Fraunhofer SCS)

Project term: 2019 - 2022

The aim of the KoMiK research project is to examine the selection, introduction processes and effects of Enterprise Collaboration Systems (ECS) in small to medium-sized enterprises on the basis of a longitudinal study. The focus of our sub-project is to record existing and new technically supported communication and processing procedures as well as qualification requirements in companies and to analyze changes resulting from the introduction of ECS.

Digital study assistant

Funding: Stiftung Innovation der Hochschullehre

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Andreas Henrich and Prof. Dr. Olaf Struck

Project term: 2021 – 2024

As part of the joint project "Digitale Kulturen der Lehre entwickeln" (DiKule), this sub-project is researching the possibilities of using digital study assistants. On the basis of data available to universities about students and their respective study progressions, it will be critically examined whether and to what extent these data (for the analysis of successful or unsuccessful study progressions) can provide information about whether and to what extent these data sources could be suitable for a digital-assisted "navigation" through the modules offered in the course of studies in the context of study guidance, or whether such data can also provide indications for readjustments of curricula to improve study progressions.

Effects of the Corona pandemic on job-related learning in adult life

Funding: DFG (German Research Foundation) Focus Funding: Education and Corona

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Corinna Kleinert, Dr. Christina Haas, Prof. Dr. Martin Ehlert (WZB), Prof. Dr. Gundula Zoch (University of Oldenburg)

Project term: 2022 - 2023

Since the first lockdown in March 2020, it has been discussed widely and controversially how the Corona pandemic has affected learning participation, processes, and outcomes. However, these debates have focused heavily on children and adolescents in initial education. The question of how the pandemic has affected learning in adult age, particularly job-related adult education and training (AET), has been largely neglected in public discourse and research.

The necessity of lifelong learning has grown in recent decades due to technological change and demographic ageing of the workforce, yet the participation in AET remains socially stratified. The Corona pandemic has now profoundly changed the supply and demand for adult education in a short period of time. Traditional AET in the form of on-site courses has largely collapsed, and many firms have reduced their investment in training. At the same time, new opportunities for professional learning have emerged for some groups of employees due to short-time work, while others had less time because they had to care for their children when working from home. Finally, the crisis led to accelerated digitization, which has created the need for many employees to learn new things quickly. Overall, therefore, it is yet to be seen—and so far not sufficiently studied empirically—how the pandemic has affected participation in different forms of AET, which learning barriers and opportunities the crisis brought, and how this has changed patterns of social inequality in AET. Since AET will be a key component in mitigating pandemic-related distortions in the labour market, it is important to answer these questions soon in order to derive targeted adult education strategies.

To this end, we plan to conduct empirical analyses using large-scale panel data from NEPS collected annually since the late 2000s through fall 2020-spring 2021, providing detailed longitudinal information on nonformal and informal job-related learning among employed adults.

Employment and working conditions in the health and care sector - a multi-method study

Funding: BMAS - Fördernetzwerk Interdisziplinäre Sozialpolitikforschung

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Olaf Struck, Dr. Christopher Osiander, Dr. Monika Senghaas, Prof. Dr. Gesine Stephan

Project term: 2021 - 2023

The health and care sector is characterized by shortages of skilled workers and working conditions that are partly perceived as unattractive by employees. Against this background, using expert interviews and occupational transition analyses (based on process data from the Federal Employment Agency, supplemented by regional structural and health data and occupational stress indicators), the causes of and changes in the shortage of skilled workers in the various occupations in the health and care sector before and during the Covid 19 pandemic are analyzed. Based on findings from the expert interviews, a factorial survey will be used to determine whether and to what extent working people would be willing to accept costs for changes in the working conditions of skilled workers in health and care professions that are considered to be beneficial.

Finding Comprimises and its Consequenses - Path Dependencies between Occupational Choices, Educational Decicions and Educational Transitions

Funding: DFG (German Research Foundation)

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Corinna Kleinert, Prof. Dr. Brigitte Schels (FAU Nürnberg)

Project term: 2018 - 2022

The project investigates the process of occupational choice in the transition from school and its consequences for take-up and progress of post-school education. Processes of occupational choice and connected educational decisions are important steps in adolescents' development; at the same time, training occupations set the course for their further careers. In Germany, occupations play a key role in shaping the transition to employment and in (re-)producing social inequality. However, educational pathways in Germany have profoundly changed in the course of educational expansion and structural labour market change. Alongside these trends an increase of qualitative mismatch on the training market has been observed.

Against this background it is a crucial question how such imbalances may develop. Previous research provides only limited information on this issue. So far, there are many studies on single aspects of school-to-work transitions, such as occupational choices, educational decisions, entries into post-school education, and training dropouts, but they are widely isolated in terms of their conceptual, theoretical, and empirical approaches. What has hardly been applied – also due to a lack of appropriate longitudinal data – is a dynamic perspective, which takes into account the fact that occupational choices, decisions taken during transitions, and their revision are consecutive steps in the transition process.

The project aims at closing these research gaps by generating basic knowledge from a longitudinal perspective about supply-side mechanisms. Our main questions are: How do adolescents adapt their occupational and educational aspirations to the expectations of their surroundings and to the realities of the training market before finishing school? Which consequences do these compromises have for their further education and training careers? How does social stratification, in particular with regard to social background, affect this process and how does this influence develop over the transition process?

To answer these questions, we use longitudinal data of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS), Starting Cohort 4, to investigate the careers of ninth-grade students. We enrich these data with structural information on training occupations taken from official statistics. This enables us to examine adolescents' preferences for occupational fields, their willingness to make compromises in certain dimensions, such as income prospects or job security, the quality of the match between occupational aspiration and training occupation, and the consequences of these parameters for further educational careers.

Health Measures and Health Inequality over The Life Course

Funding: DFG (German Research Foundation)

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Henriette Engelhardt-Wölfler

Project term: 2019 - 2024

Numerous studies report existence of a persistent socioeconomic status (SES)-health gradient in different countries, and regardless of SES and health outcome measures. It is also well known from several studies that the unequal distribution of health between SES groups increases with age. But there is little conclusive evidence about the underlying mechanisms behind health inequalities, and less is known why the SES-health gradient increases with age and whether the gradient has changed over time. The effect of SES on health may of course causally increase with age, e.g. having a low education level and/or a low income makes one more prone to a risky lifestyle that gradually affects ones health. But the relationship could as well run in the opposite direction, i.e. from health to SES. A third explanation could be that the positive age increase in the SES-health gradient is related to measurement errors in the variables used for both, SES and health. In the case of health it is difficult to find a measure that is useful over the entire adult life span. We want to answer these questions with the project Health Measures and Health Inequality over The Life Course.

How are the central social conflict structures in Germany changing? Social Media Analytics of Collective Protests and Movements

Funding: Bavarian Research Institute for Digital Transformation (bidt)

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Thomas Kern, Prof. Dr. Kai Fischbach, Prof. Dr. Marc Helbling

Project term: 2020 – 2023

Conflicts are a driving force of social change and a supporting element of modern democracies. This is particularly true of regulated conflicts such as party competition in politics. By continuously balancing opposing interests, they make an essential contribution to social integration. However, as soon as conflicts unfold unregulated - the spectrum ranges from "hate comments" on the Internet (online) to collective violence (offline) - they can undermine the social order. Within the framework of the interdisciplinary project the changing structures and dynamics of social conflicts in Germany will be investigated. On the one hand, this involves building up a comprehensive database on conflicts, waves of protest and social movements on the basis of new digital data sources (including Twitter and Facebook). On the other hand, the consequences for democracy resulting from the relocation of conflicts to social media are examined. The focus is on the question of the extent to which conflicts are shifted to social media and what consequences this has for democracies and the handling of new forms of participation.

How do Religious Markets Emerge?

Funding: DFG (German Research Foundation)

Project lead in Bamberg: Prof. Dr. Thomas Kern

Project term: 2019 - 2022

The Protestant field in the US has experienced a profound process of transformation over the past decades: Evangelicalism has considerably gained in influence, so-called "Megachurches" have spread all over the country, and the traditional Protestant denominations have increasingly lost their impact on the religious everyday life of ordinary believers. Contemporary sociological approaches tend to interpret this development either in terms of secularization theory as a decline of religion, or with a critical view to secularization theory as a sign for its increasing importance.

In contrast to both perspectives, the planned project builds on market sociological approaches and proposes a "middle range theory" that looks into the specific institutional conditions of religious change in the US. We assume that the previously dominating "logic of Protestant denominationalism" has been superimposed by a new "logic of religious markets". In this process, firstly, religious competition shifts from the level of denominations to the level of congregations (competitive orientation). Secondly, believers are increasingly perceived as religious "consumers" with congregations tailoring their offers to their expectations (consumer orientation). The project aims at answering two questions: (i) What are the conditions for the institutionalization of the new market logic? (ii) What effects does the institutionalization of markets have on religious participation?

To study these questions, six congregations each from Houston and Minneapolis will be compared in terms of their cultural and social network structures. We expect that the religious market is more established and institutionalized in Houston than in Minneapolis. On this basis, we will examine how religious participation changes under the conditions of the market logic. The project builds on recent qualitative and quantitative methods such as social network analysis (SNA), topic modeling (TM) and qualitative comparative analyses (QCA).

National Educational Panel Study (NEPS)

Origins matter: Immigrant selectivity in Western Europe

Funding: DFG (German Research Foundation)

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Cornelia Kristen, Prof. Dr. Christoph Spörlein (UniversityofDüsseldorf)

Project term: 2019 - 2022

This project builds upon a core principle in the sociology of migration, namely that immigrants are not a random sample of the origin population, but differ in certain characteristics from individuals who stay behind. The first aim is to provide a description of educational selectivity for a range of different immigrant groups across a variety of Western European destinations. In addition to educational selectivity, which is the main focus of this research, selectivity in attitudes also enters the account. The second aim is to theoretically disentangle and empirically investigate the links between selectivity and immigrants’ incorporation into the receiving societies. The focus is on a selection of important outcomes including cultural integration (in terms of language acquisition), positional or structural integration (in terms of education and labor market performance) and aspects of social and identificative integration (in terms of inter-ethnic relations and attitudes). An additional methodological aim is to contribute to the literature by systematically implementing improved measures of selectivity. In this project, selectivity is framed as an individual-level characteristic as opposed to the common approach of group-based specifications. We measure selectivity by recording an individual’s age- and sex-specific position in the origin country’s distribution of the selectivity characteristic in question. The resulting selectivity measure acknowledges that origin groups are typically composed of varying proportions of positively and negatively selected individuals. Advances in data availability allow making use of a variety of data sources, both for a large set of countries of origin and for various immigrant destinations throughout Europe. All data harmonization efforts as well as the scripts necessary for replicating the analyses carried out in the course of the project will be made available to the scientific community.

Teaching-Learning Laboratory Professional Worlds: Exploring work-based learning with digital media and technology

Funding: Oberfrankenstiftung

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Olaf Struck

Project term: 2021 – 2024

For the implementation and research of digitally supported forms of teaching, a new digital teaching-learning laboratory will be set up in Feldkirchenstraße in 2021. The goal of this BerufsweltenLab is to professionalize students, especially future teachers, for the confident use of digital technology. For this purpose, teaching-learning settings will be developed, applied and researched in their implementation for courses in sociology (here in particular in the focus areas of Labour Studies) as well as teacher education in the vocational training-related courses of study vocational education, didactics of work education as well as economics and career for the secondary school teaching profession and Economics and Business Education.

The Role of Educational Upgrading in the Formation of Social Inequality (HQUAL)

Funding: DFG (German Research Foundation)

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Steffen Schindler

Project term: 2021 - 2024

The project deals with the question of how and to what extent investments in education beyond the originally acquired level influence social inequalities in the labour market. The project examines not only how these investments in education contribute to an unequal distribution of labour market returns, but also addresses the question of how new investments in education influence the relationship between social origin and labour market outcomes.

The socio-economic consequences of temporary employment: A comparative panel data analysis (SECCOPA)

Funding: European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Michael Gebel

Project term: 2018 - 2023

Temporary employment has become widespread in industrialized nations and many concerns have been raised about this development. Against this background, we will provide new insights into the multi-faceted socio-economic consequences of temporary work. Theoretically, the SECCOPA project is innovative by developing a multilevel dynamic model that combines ideas from sociology, economics, psychology, and social policy. Specifically, we will gain a novel, comprehensive understanding of how temporary jobs affect the employment and work career, risks of income poverty and material deprivation, and subjective well-being. This project aims at estimating causal effects of temporary work using panel data and applying state-of-the-art methods of modern causal analysis. Complementing the dominant “upward” comparison of temporary jobs to permanent ones with a “downward” comparison of temporary jobs to unemployment has the potential for producing ground-breaking results on the integrative potential of temporary work for the unemployed. Furthermore, new evidence on the heterogeneity in the effects of temporary employment at the micro-level will be gained by conducting detailed subgroup analyses. Moreover, this project will advance research by elaborating the socio-economic consequences of temporary employment in a dynamic process and life course perspective. The selection, treatment, and outcome dynamics are investigated by following temporary workers and their household living arrangements over time. While previous studies have only focused on individual workers, the important household perspective and its moderating role will be elaborated, too. Analysing Western and Eastern European countries as well as the liberal welfare states Canada, the United States, South Korea, Japan and Australia and applying innovative multilevel panel data methods will result in significant new insights and represent frontier research on the moderating role of the structural and institutional macro context.


Funding: European Union´s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme

Project lead: Prof. Dr. rer. pol. Dr. h. c. Hans-Peter Blossfeld, Prof. Dr. Ann Berrington (Centre for Population Change (CPC)),  Prof. Dr. Ros Edwards (University of Southampton), Prof. Dr. Saar (University of Tallinn), Liefbroer (Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI))

Project lead: 2021 - 2023


Project "Life course perspectives in studying youth transitions to adulthood: bridging qualitative and quantitative approaches" (YouthLife) 

YouthLife project aims to strengthen research on youth transitions from a life course perspective through a partnership with Tallinn University and three internationally-leading research institutions with complementary methodological expertise and experience: University of Bamberg, University of Southampton, and the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute. YouthLife will initiate a three-year twinning programme to bridge qualitative and quantitative approaches to life course research with the aim of introducing methodological innovations and providing new insights into youth transitions to adulthood. The new knowledge will be applied in the design of the Estonian Longitudinal Study of Youth.

General objectives:

  • to tackle the methodological divide between quantitative and qualitative approaches in life course research through mutual learning and cooperation between Partners with excellence in both fields and by advancing the use of mixed method research designs and providing innovative tools for further research.
  • to bridge the research and policy divide and support successful science based policy making in youth field in order to better solve the pressing issues on the social inclusion agenda in EU and to raise the awareness about the advantages of longitudinal data, mixed methods and life course perspective in providing profound insights into youth transitions.
  • to strengthen the excellence of research on youth transitions and facilitating the multifaceted capacity building at TLU through a series of Twinning activities involving knowledge transfer, experience exchange and mutual learning during intensive training courses, practical workshops, networking events, expert and study visits, co-supervision and mentoring of ERSs, peer-to-peer interactions during the preparation of joint research proposals and publications.
  • to develop a scientifically excellent research design for the Estonian Longitudinal Study of Youth (ELSY) to fill the gap in empirical data on young people´s transitions into adulthood in Estonia.
  • to foster research management and administration (RMA) skills of both academic and support staff and to upgrade the RMA support system within TLU.