Institute for Socio-Economics (IfSO)

The Institute for Socio-Economics was founded in 2017 and will complete its profile over the coming years with appointments to three new professorships and by establishing research groups in state activity and public finance, pluralist economics, and empirical inequality research. One area of special interest in socioeconomic inequality has already been defined with the macroeconomic and political economy focus of the existing research groups.

The research activities ongoing at the Institute for Socio-Economics can be categorised as follows: income distribution from a macroeconomic perspective, economic attitudes and discourse, political and political economy implications of socioeconomic inequality, socio-economic education and economic pluralism.

In income distribution research, Prof. Till van Treeck is working in a project funded by the Institute for New Economic Thinking, “Income Inequality, Household Debt, and Current Account Imbalances”, on the relationship between socioeconomic inequality and economic stability. Another ongoing research project on the political economy debate surrounding growth models and varieties of capitalism in the context of growing inequality (Prof. Till van Treeck) is also located in the same research field.

In research on economic attitudes and discourse, Prof. van Treeck is studying attitudes towards the economy and economic policy and how they are represented in various media. A research project funded by Stiftung Mercator is exploring student attitudes to economic and financial crisis. Other research projects in this area investigate economic policy discourse in the field of textbook research and analysis of media debates, which also create points of contact with other research in the Faculty.

A third area of research is in political economy and political sociology, with inherent interfaces between it and the neighbouring Institutes of Political Science and Sociology. Under the NRW returning scholars’ programme, the research group of Prof. Paul Marx is studying the influence of social problems on political integration in Germany and from a comparative perspective. A similar basis can be found in a research project on socioeconomic inequality and democratic responsiveness (Dr. Lea Elsässer). Other research activities at the Institute for Socio-Economics are taking place in the field of socioeconomic education and on issues of economic pluralism. A research project funded by the FGW Forschungsinstitut für gesellschaftliche Weiterentwicklung (Prof. Till van Treeck) is concerned with analysis and development of (digital) socioeconomic textbooks and teaching materials. Prof. van Treeck is cooperating with the Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb), among others, on teaching and learning material development. Daniel Obst is developing an interactive learning platform in socioeconomics with funding from the NRW Science Ministry and Stifterverband.