Projects

The chair is currently working on the following projects:

Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg; Bergische Universität Wuppertal; Universität Bremen

Ziel des Projekts ist es, das Bindeglied zwischen den Rahmenbedingungen der Wissenschaft und den Forschungsergebnissen besser zu verstehen: die wissenschaftliche Karriere. Diese wird bezüglich (a) struktureller (nationale und disziplinäre Förderprofile), (b) kontextueller (Netzwerkökologien und Fachdiskurse) sowie (c) individueller Einflussfaktoren (Biographien) hin untersucht. Die zentrale Frage ist damit, welche Faktoren Verlauf, Produktivität und Endergebnis wissenschaftlicher Karrieren in den USA und Deutschland beeinflussen, diese fördern oder behindern. Zur Abdeckung verschiedener disziplinärer Kontexte werden zudem anwendungsferne (Theoretische Physik) und anwendungsnahe (Biochemie) Fächer sowie eine Mischform (Psychologie) untersucht.

Zunächst wird eine umfangreiche Datenbank u.a. aus Publikationen, Dissertationen und Biographien angelegt. Deren Kombination im Zeitverlauf erlaubt die zentrale abhängige Variable abzuleiten: die Berufung auf eine Professur oder den Abbruch der Karriere. Zur Überprüfung von (a)-(c) generieren wir Indikatoren, indem Fachdiskurse mit Hilfe von Topic Models nachgezeichnet oder Kollaborationen analysiert werden. Die Teilergebnisse werden in einem Multilevel-Modell integriert, wodurch wir Faktoren von gelingende(abgebrochenen) Karriereverläufen identifizieren. Die Kontextsensitivität kann helfen das Potential früher wissenschaftlicher Karrieren besser einzuschätzen und erlaubt eine gezieltere Förderung sowie die Reduktion von Karrierehemmnissen.

Es wird ein grundlegender Beitrag zur wissenschaftlichen Arbeit und der dafür notwendigen Infrastruktur erwartet: die Bereitstellung kontextsensitiver Leistungsindikatoren, die Entwicklung verbesserter Auswahlkriterien für wissenschaftliche Arbeitsteilung (insbes. Peer-Reviews), die Publikation eines umfassenden Datensatzes und die Begleitung durch Workshops, die in die Nutzung der Indikatoren und des Datensatzes sowie in die verwendeten Methoden einführen sollen.


 

Zuwendungsempfänger:

Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg; Bergische Universität Wuppertal; Universität Bremen
Verbundleitung: Prof. Dr. Richard Münch

FKZ: 01PU17021A; 01PU17021B; 01PU17021C
Betrag: 589.649,64 EUR
Laufzeit: 01.10.2018 - 30.09.2021

Subproject 1 of the research group “Horizontal Europeanization. Europe as an emerging social entity between the national and the global sphere” led by Prof. Dr. Martin Heidenreich, Carl-von-Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg.

The opening of national, hierarchically structured academic fields goes hand in hand with an Europeanization of academic capitalism: The inequality in terms of researchers, disciplines and universities is increasingly subjected to heightened competition. The institutionalization on a European level accounts for few, though globally visible winners. The theoretical surplus of the research project so far is mainly rooted in a transnational conception of the academic field within the field of power, enabling a both horizontal and comparative perspective on specific national features. This perspective allows for a deeper understanding of the process of the symbolic construction of the European research area (ERA). By analyzing the interplay between national opening and European closure, several findings were gained: On the micro- and meso levels, in particular, a variety of transnational strategies concerning career, third-party funding and respective cooperation have developed, indicating an academic modus operandi that becomes increasingly Europeanized. However, the genesis of an ERA also involves potential conflicts: Based on our current results, further analysis needs to focus especially on transnational academic migration, effects of “brain-drain” and the emergence of a European academic elite.

Homepage of the research group  DFG-Forschergruppe.

Project led by Prof. Dr. Richard Münch, Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg, in cooperation with the Zeppelin University.

Research Associates:
Vincent Gengnagel
Stephanie Beyer
Len Ole Schäfer

Post-Socialist Civil Societies in Transformation: Comparing Eastern Germany and Russia (Prof. Dr. Thomas Kern, Prof. Christian Fröhlich, Dr. Sang-hui Nam)

The re-unification of Germany and the break-up of the Soviet Union have triggered profound political, economic and social processes. This so-called "post-socialist condition" still affects civil society in Germany and Russia: Germany struggles with many cultural and social divisions between East and West even after 25 years after the unification. Russia displays a sharp divide between authoritarian political structures and societal forces urging for more liberalization.

The shared post-socialist condition constitutes the basis for a comparison of German and Russian civil society. In the post-socialist part of Germany, political and economic structures were adopted almost entirely from the Western part of the country. Russia also transferred institutional elements from Western democracies. However, Soviet patterns have survived in a far stronger manner than in Germany. This observation raises the question, how both civil societies were and are still shaped by these transformations. Consequently, the project aims at analyzing the patterns and institutional logics that characterize civil society in Germany and Russia. The comparison of Russia and East Germany offers also an opportunity to analyze the impact of the socialist legacy.

The project consists of a series of workshops of German and Russian social scientists. Their goal is to establish a network of researchers on post-socialist civil societies in order to build collaborations and create innovative ideas for further research projects.

Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Projektbeteiligte:

Prof. Dr. Kai Fischbach, Lehrstuhl für Wirtschaftsinformatik, insbes. Soziale Netzwerke (Universität Bamberg)
Prof. Dr. Marc Helbling, Lehrstuhl für Politische Soziologie (Universität Bamberg)
Prof. Dr. Thomas Kern, Lehrstuhl für Soziologie, insbes. Soziologische Theorie (Universität Bamberg)

Projektlaufzeit:

1 plus 2 Jahre
gefördert durch das Bayerische Forschungsinstitut für Digitale Transformation (bidt)

Project description:

Social conflicts are a driving force of social change and a sustaining element of modern democracy. This applies especially to "regulated" conflicts such as party competition in the field of politics. By continuously balancing opposing interests, regulated conflicts promote social integration. Nevertheless, whenever conflicts turn out to be "unregulated", they can become a serious threat to social cohesion. Examples range from "hate speech" on the internet (online) to collective violence (offline). This project examines the structures and dynamics of social conflicts in Germany. The first goal is to create an extensive database on conflicts, protests and social movements on the basis of new digital data sources. The second goal is to examine the consequences for democracy resulting from the social media becoming the focal arenas of social conflicts. In this context, a central question is: how are unregulated conflicts transformed into regulated conflicts?

A Comparative Study of US-American Protestantism

Principal Investigators:
Prof. Dr. Thomas Kern
Dr. Insa Pruisken
Project Researchers:
Josefa Loebell, M.A.
Nina Monowski, M.A.

Background

One of the most salient features of the Unites States is the high level of its population's religiosity and participation in congregational activities. Most recently, the spread of evangelical megachurches has drawn much attention in sociological debates. In our view, the growth of megachurches indicates the rise of a new religious market logic that increasingly displaces the previous logic of the denomination in the field of US Protestantism. In this process, the traditional image of the local congregation as a "subunit" of the denomination is replaced by the idea of the congregation as an entrepreneurial organization that has to shape its market niche. Consequently, local congregations increasingly produce worship services as religious performances for large audiences, tailor their programs to the religious preferences of potential participants, and compete with each other using innovative techniques in order to attract new members.

Objective

Our project aims at studying how the transformation of the protestant field from denominationalism to the religious market affects religious participation, spiritual practices, and the patterns of local religious organization.

Methodology

We compare six congregations each from two metropolitan areas in the United States (Houston and Minneapolis/St. Paul) in terms of their social network structures, governance forms and religious identifications. Our empirical research rests on a multilevel case study approach that includes:

  1. interviews with staff members and attenders of the congregations, focusing on questions about organizational practices, religious programs, and network structures,
  2. an online survey with attenders of the congregations, focusing on their religious biographies, attitudes, and practices,
  3. a content analysis of organizational documents and websites focusing on the formal governance, mission statements and representation of the organization in social media.

 

Research Project
Funded by the German Research Foundation/Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/409780244

Expired projects

DFG-Projekt: "Why are Megachurches Attractive? Network Structures and Cultural Reproduction of a New Organizational Form in the U.S."

Projektleitung:
Prof. Dr. Thomas Kern
Prof. Dr. Uwe Schimank (Universität Bremen)

Projektmitarbeiterin:
Dr. Insa Pruisken

Projektdauer:
August 2012 - Dezember 2017
Projektfinanzierung: gefördert durch die DFG

Background

Megachurches have become a widespread phenomenon around the globe. Congregations are considered megachurches if their weekly services are attended by more than 2,000 adults. Although very large congregations have existed throughout the history of Christianity, their number has been rising sharply since the 1970s. Currently, there are more than 1,600 megachurches in the United States alone. While economic explanations for the extraordinary growth of congregations abound, more research is needed to explore the role of social networks for the recruitment of new attenders. Sociologists are also called to identify key features responsible for the success of megachurches as a new organizational form. Most importantly, tracing the rise of the megachurch movement may reveal profound transformations of spiritual culture in America.

Objective

The project seeks to provide insights about growth trajectories typical for megachurches by describing the specific niche they occupy in terms of the characteristics of their members, their embeddedness in organizational networks, and their positioning in the overall spiritual landscape.

Key Questions

  • How do megachurches mobilize new members?
  • What are key characteristics of megachurches as a new type of congregation?
  • How are megachurches culturally embedded in a network of meanings, ideas, and values?

Methodology

The study follows a multilevel case study approach with four congregations located in Texas serving as research sites. In January and February 2013 about 70 interviews with staff members of the four churches were conducted in order to gather information about the organizations’ structure and goals. Between September 2013 and February 2014 an online survey for the members of the congregations was distributed. Questions dealt with their individual recruitment, their participation in church activities, and their affiliations with other organizations. In addition, a semantic network analysis of organizational documents and religious publications important for congregation members will be conducted.

Publications

Kern, Thomas & Insa Pruisken (2017): Evangelikalismus als Bewegung. In: Elwert, Frederik, Martin Radermacher & Jens Schlamelcher (Hrsg.): Handbuch Evangelikalismus, Bielefeld: transcript (in Vorbereitung).

Kern, Thomas & Insa Pruisken (2017): Religiöse Bewegungen. Das Beispiel des Evangelikalismus in den USA. In: Pollack, Detlef, Volker Krech, Olaf Müller & Markus Hero (Hrsg.): Handbuch Religionssoziologie, Springer: VS (in Vorbereitung).

Kern, Thomas & Insa Pruisken (2017): Kontingenzbewältigung durch "Organisation": Das Wachstum der Megakirchen in den USA. In: Sammet, Heidemarie & Kornelia Winkel: Religion soziologisch denken, Springer VS (im Erscheinen).

Kern, Thomas & Insa Pruisken (2016): Wohin geht der religiöse Wandel? Essay, Soziologische Revue 39(3): 337–349.

Pruisken, Insa & Janina Coronel (2014): Megakirchen: Managerialisierung im religiösen Feld? In: Heiser, Patrick & Christian Ludwig: Sozialformen der Religion im Wandel, Springer VS, S. 53-79.

Kern, Thomas & Uwe Schimank (2013): Megakirchen als religiöse Organisationen: Ein dritter Gemeindetyp jenseits von Sekte und Kirche? Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie Bd. 65, Supplement 1 (Sonderheft 53: Religion und Gesellschaft): 285-309.

About the project

The research project Unintended Side-Effects of Performance-Measurements in Science (NEL) is a comparative study sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and conducted by Prof. Richard Münch, Dipl. Soz. Len Ole Schäfer and Oliver Wieczorek, M.A. Our research aims are to uncover the complex, social dynamics that affect research conditions on individual level, department level, and level of the disciplines.

Research Questions

Our research project aims to answer the following six research questions:

1)      How do performance-measurements, rankings, and prestige differences affect inequality among departments and different types of universities?

2)      How strongly are research diversity and research autonomy affected by material and prestige inequalities?

3)      How strongly are research autonomy and scholarly output influenced by the introduction of monitoring practices on the levels of the university and how on the level of the academia as whole?

4)      How do resource- and prestige inequalities affect long-term and basic research?

5)      What are the effects on career patterns of scholars and their self-attribution as researcher?

6)      Does as possible segregation between teaching- and research-focused institutions have significant effects on research diversity, creativity, links to companies and politics, and returns on investment?

Theoretical Framework

In order to answer the six research questions raised, we use a theoretical framework based on the Academic Capitalism approach. This theoretical model proposes that a shift in boundary conditions influenced research conditions at universities. These boundary conditions comprise of the introduction of performance assessments in the 1980s, increasing attempts of state intervention into academia, scarcity of resources, and an alteration of how universities gain reputation. These developments introduced a struggle for material- and symbolic resources at the same time, affecting coping strategies and scientific values all over the world. These coping strategies in turn influence research autonomy, career advancement, possibility to establish collaboration, the necessity to monetize research results, and to be on top of academic league tables such as rankings and research assessments.

In a second step, our theoretical model suggests that the abovementioned shifts affect how scholars compete for academic merits and material resources. To this end, our research understands Academic Capitalism as a unique hybrid that unites the scientific search for truth and the economic maximization of profits. It turns universities into enterprises competing for capital accumulation and businesses into knowledge producers looking for new findings that can be turned into patents and profitable commodities. Therefore, Academic Capitalism has an impact on the strategic management of the universities and the relation between researchers and the university administration. On the level of the researchers, the question arises who can conduct autonomous, not directly marketable research under which conditions.

Further, our model suggests that a shift in both the general condition for research and the adaptation of the university as actor within the broader academic and economic development have different effects for scholars located at elite- and non-elite departments. Scholars at elite departments are backed by larger extents of material resources and are able to use their reputation and to remain relatively autonomous. These conditions ensure them to live according the principles of universalism, organized skepticism, disinterestedness, and intellectual communism. In case of elite departments, we suppose that criteria such as originality, creativity and diversity of research are highly valued (see Schäfer: Performance assessment in science and academia: effects of the RAE/REF on academic life).

However the majority of scholars at non-elite department must cope with their constraints in material and symbolic resources to a larger extent. Scarcity of resources, increasing competition for grants and the introduction of additional missions such as being responsible for economic growth and knowledge transfer to industry have an impact on scholars. They have to meet the demands of sponsors as well as the demands of the public, rendering them as assets in order to gain prestige and material resources while strengthening ties to companies. At the same time, researchers are trained to take the financial strain and power relations into account when conducting research. They must at least partially deviate from the principles universalism, organized skepticism, disinterestedness, and intellectual communism, leaving them with a weaker, competitive position for reputation and grants.

Methodology

To accomplish the aims of our research, we use a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. To trace the long-term effects on department level, we use fixed- and random-effects regression models. Furthermore, we use methods of social network analysis to highlight the effects of academic capitalism on career opportunities, collaboration and competition in academia. Additionally, we use semi-structured interviews with researchers and university administrators to enhance our understanding of the proposed effects on daily routines on both scholars and administrators.

The survey adds to our methodological framework in the sense that it provides data needed for multilevel regression. This technique allows us to investigate the effects of academic capitalism on the level of the state-systems (e.g. University of California System), the departments, and individual researchers. 

About the survey 

The survey accompanies the research project Unintended Side-Effects of Performance-Measurements in Science is an online survey. It will take approximately 30 minutes to complete and consists of 45 questions in total. The questions are divided into six different topics and gives insights into the mechanisms affecting research careers, research autonomy, collegiality and competition, research diversity and academic values.

We are interested in the experiences of students, postdoctoral researchers and professors in the subjects Chemistry, Physics and Sociology. To do so, our survey is designed in such a manner that it allows us to aggregate individual responses on department level. After aggregation and anonymization, the departmental data will be matched with data that was collected by the National Science Foundation Survey of Research and Development Expenditures at Universities and Colleges and the IPEDS Salaries, Tenure, and Fringe Benefits Survey. By doing so, we hope to uncover the complex arrangement between structural effects at department level and individual level that are framed by political decisions and economic developments on the long run.

Selected Publications

During the last two and a half years, we accomplished more than 20 publications regarding the unintended effects of performance measurements in science. A selection of these publications is presented below:

1.       Münch, Richard (2014): Academic Capitalism. London, Routledge.

2.       Münch, Richard (2015): Alle Macht den Zahlen! Zur Soziologie des Zitationsindexes. In: Soziale Welt 66(2), 149 – 160.

3.       Münch, Richard (2015): Evaluation 2.0: von der wissenschaftlichen zur managerialen Qualitätssicherung? In: Bulletin 147/148, 22 – 28.

4.       Münch, Richard (2016): Die Universität im akademischen Kapitalismus [The university within academic capitalism]. In: Bauer, Nina, Christina Besio, Maria Norkus and Grit Petschick (Hg.): Wissen – Organisation – Forschungspraxis. Der Makro – Meso – Mikro – Link in der Wissenschaft [Knowledge – Organization – Research Practice. The Macro – Meso – Micro – Link in academia]. VS-Verlag: Wiesbaden, 95 – 121.

5.       Münch, Richard and Thomas Heinze (2016): Innovation in Science and Organizational Renewal. Historical and Sociological Perspectives. Palgrave.

6.       Münch, Richard and Len Ole Schäfer (2014): Rankings, Diversity, and the Power of Renewal in Science. A Comparison between Germany, the UK and the US. In: European Journal of Education 49(1), 60 – 76.

7.       Schäfer, Len Ole (2016): Performance assessment in science and academia: effects of the RAE/REF on academic life. Centre for Global Higher Education working paper series (no. 7).

8.       Heiberger, Heiko and Oliver Wieczorek (2016): Choosing Collaboration Partners. How Scientific Success Depends on Network Positions. Working Paper.

9.       Wieczorek, Oliver, Stephanie Beyer and Richard Münch (2016): Fief and Benefice Feudalism. Two Types of Academic Autonomy in US Chemistry. In Publication (Higher Education).

10.   Wieczorek, Oliver and Len Ole Schäfer (2016): Verwaltungspraktiken – Konstruktion von Leistungsindikatoren am Beispiel des britischen Research Assessment Exercise. [The Effect of Management Practices on Performance Indicators: The Example of the British Research Assessment Exercise]. In: Bauer, Nina, Christina Besio, Maria Norkus and Grit Petschick (Hg.): Wissen – Organisation – Forschungspraxis. Der Makro – Meso – Mikro – Link in der Wissenschaft [Knowledge – Organization – Research Practice. The Macro – Meso – Micro – Link in academia]. VS-Verlag: Wiesbaden, 510 – 551.

Projektmitarbeiter:
Len Ole Schäfer
Oliver Wieczorek