Research highlights in 2019/2020

The following research highlights from the past two years give insight into our faculty’s diverse projects and funding sources:

ERC Consolidator Grant ‘The Ties that Bind: Experimental Analyses of Political Solidarities in Modern European Democracies’ (POLITSOLID)

Professor Achim Goerres’s (IfP) project POLITSOLID examines why some citizens of European nations are more inclined than others to bear the cost of state redistribution schemes. Using experimental methods, his study aims to model various political solidarities at the individual and macro level in order to improve behavioural predictions. The project is funded by the European Research Council with 2 million euros between 2020 and 2025. It was the first political-science project in Germany to be awarded a Consolidator Grant.

DFG project ‘Role Change and Role Contestation in the People’s Republic of China: Globalization of “Chinese” Concepts of Order?’ 

Professor Nele Noesselt’s (IfP) research project highlights the global implications of the institutional reforms and the restructuring of the Chinese developmental trajectory which have taken place since 2013. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG) has allocated 585,000 euros in funding to the project for 2014–2024.

BMBF collaborative project ‘Radical Islam versus Radical Anti-Islam (RIRA). Social Polarisation and Perceived Threats as Drivers of Radicalisation and Co-Radicalisation among Young People and Post-Adolescents’

German society has become increasingly polarised over the past years as various social groups continue to undergo processes of mutual alienation and rejection. Prejudices against social groups correlate with the perception of the ‘other’ as a threat. The (perceived) threat of radical Islam plays an important role in these processes. It has paved the way for a reciprocal spiral of potential radicalisation in German society, and youths and young adults are at particular risk. The proposed project takes an interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, interreligious, multimethodological and empirical approach to previously unexamined interrelations of social aspects inherent to such a spiral of radicalisation. The results will inform preventive measures for the educational sector. Headed by Professor Susanne Pickel of the Institute of Political Science, the collaborative project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research with 2,470,000 euros between 2020 and 2024.

EU collaborative project ’sEnECA – Strengthening and Energizing EU-Central Asia Relations’ in the EU Horizon 2020 programme

Headed by Professor Michael Kaeding (IfP) and Dr Karin Böttger (Director of the Institute for European Politics, Berlin), the international consortium was made up of twelve organisations from the EU and Central Asia. It realised three concrete objectives over the project duration. Firstly, it has established a transdisciplinary network of academics working on European integration in Central Asia and on Central Asian topics in Europe. Secondly, the participating researchers advised and informed the revision of the EU Central Asia Strategy. Thirdly, the project partners contributed to the expansion of existing relations. The SEnECA project received 1.5 million euros of funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme from the beginning of 2018 to the end of 2019.

DFG project ‘German Emigration and Remigration Panel Study (GERPS)’ in partnership with the Federal Institute for Population Research

In collaboration with the Federal Institute for Population Research, Professor Marcel Erlinghagen (IfS) is conducting a large-scale empirical study into the impact of international migration on the further course of migrants’ lives. His case studies involve people who have emigrated from Germany and returned. The project examines the consequences of international migration on the basis of traditional distinctions used in social structure analysis and inequality studies. It is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) with 2 million euros from 2018 till 2021.

DFG project ‘Organizing Creativity under Regulatory Uncertainty: Alternative Approaches to Intellectual Property’

Regulatory uncertainty about intellectual property rights is ubiquitous in creative and innovative processes. Originally implemented to foster creativity by granting copyrights and patents to creatives and allowing them to make reliable estimates about future proceeds, IP rights have gradually become a source of uncertainty. This project examines practical strategies for overcoming IP-related doubts during creative processes. It aims to develop an empirical and conceptual microfoundation of these opposing forces. Professor Sigrid Quack’s (IfS) study is part of the DFG research unit ‘Organized Creativity’, coordinated by Professor Jörg Sydow (Freie Universität Berlin) and funded with 218,342 euros between 2016 and 2020.

DFG project: ‘Family Models in Germany (FAMOD)’

Professor Anja Steinbach’s (IfS) project examines the situations of mothers, fathers and children in various family models, focusing on the well-being of the individual family members. Her standardised, large-scale study surveys members of 1,500 families living in a variety of family structures. In collaboration with Professor Tobias Helms (University of Marburg), she focuses on issues of family sociology as well as legal questions. The DFG provided 960,000 euros in funding to the project between 2018 and 2021; an application for renewal has just been approved.

DFG Research Unit: Multi-Sectoral Regional Microsimulation Model

The multi-sectoral regional microsimulation model (MikroSim) seeks to answer questions such as: which regions are currently experiencing a shortage of care staff or are at risk of such a shortage? Does urbanisation impoverish rural areas? To what extent can the expansion of digital infrastructure counteract that development? Besides labour requirements in the care sector and the integration of migrants into the labour market, MikroSim can analyse issues such as the acute shortage of doctors or income growth in Germany. The Research Unit is represented by its spokesman, Professor Johannes Kopp (Trier). Professor Reiner Schnell (vice-spokesman) and Professor Petra Stein (both of the IfS) are members. The DFG has allocated two million euros in funding to the project for 2018–2021.

NRW-Rückkehrprogramm for postdoctoral researchers returning to North Rhine-Westphalia: ‘Der Einfluss sozialer Probleme auf politische Integration in Deutschland und in vergleichender Perspektive’ (The impact of social problems on political integration from a domestic and comparative perspective)

Professor Paul Marx (IfSO) is the first social scientist to join the University of Duisburg-Essen within the scope of the NRW-Rückkehrprogramm, an initiative encouraging postdoctoral researchers to return to North Rhine-Westphalia from abroad for their further research. He previously worked at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, where he studied the political causes and consequences of changes in the labour market. His research project focuses on the political integration of people with socio-economic problems and the effect of poverty, unemployment and a precarious livelihood on political apathy and radicalisation. The Ministry of Innovation, Science and Research of North Rhine-Westphalia is funding the project with 1.2 million euros for a five-year period.

Research group: ‘Migration und Sozialpolitik’ (migration and social policy, MigSoz)

Overseen by Professor Ute Klammer and coordinated by Dr Thorsten Schlee (both of the IAQ), this early-career research group examines how municipalities and local authorities react to an influx of refugees and how refugees utilise (or fail to utilise) the structures available to them. The group comprises two post-doctoral Habilitation thesis projects and two doctoral dissertations each at the IfP and the IfS. They focus on a variety of sociopolitical topics (labour, education and healthcare) and examine specific population groups (displaced women, people from sub-Saharan Africa, refugees with a history of substance abuse). The funding network for interdisciplinary social-policy research of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has allocated 1,125,000 euros in funding to the project from 2017 to 2022.

DSF project: ‘Parteienwettbewerb und kollektive dschihadistische Radikalisierung in Subsahara-Afrika’ (party competition and collective jihadist radicalisation in sub-Saharan Africa)

The region-specific conditions that enable collective radicalisation and the resulting development of jihadist milieus have been studied to a great extent. They include the post-colonial emergence of a puritan reform Islam grounded in Salafism, the socio-economic and political marginalisation of Muslim populations, and pre-existing dynamics of secular polarisation. Meanwhile, researchers have paid considerably less attention to conditions that foster ‘non-radicalisation’. Professor Christof Hartmann’s (INEF) project approaches this research gap by examining the preventive potential of party competition in a selection of sub-Saharan countries. It is funded by the Deutsche Stiftung Friedensforschung (German Foundation for Peace Research) with 108,000 euros between 2020 and 2022.