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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Microsociology

Current Research Projects

Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Family Formation Policies [Link]

This project, seed-funded by the OX-BER partnership, explores the potential challenges in linking policies oriented to the pre-parental phase of family with those oriented to the parental phase. Theories on the latter are far more developed than on the former, certainly from a social policy perspective. Moreover, the two phases of life are typically treated in isolation and by distinct research fields. Policies for the preparental phase tend to be considered from a public health perspective whereas the parental phase tends to be the province of classical family policies. Hence, little is known about similarities and differences in the logics of law and social policy shaping partnership and family formation on the one hand, and parenthood and family life on the other. This omission is highly problematic especially because it makes for a lacuna in social policy knowledge and potential contradictions between social policy, law and health policy. In sum, the project opens up the view of the life course as starting before conception and aims to contribute to elaborating an innovative perspective of social rights of children and parents across the life course.

Principal Investigators: Hannah Zagel, Mary Daly (Oxford)

Funded by: OX-BER Research Partnership Seed Grant

Start date: 15th February 2019


Atypical employment and the Intergenerational Transmission of disadvantage: Britain and Germany in Comparative Perspective [Link]

Since the early 1990s, the incidence of atypical employment – fixed-term, part-time, low paid or flexible shift work – has increased markedly in many advanced economies. This includes but is not limited to the rise of the ‘gig economy’, i.e. the growing share of the economy that relies on work being performed through short-term contracts or freelancing. We currently lack a good understanding of whether, how and to what extent the negative consequences of atypical employment that are known to affect individuals in these kinds of employment conditions are further transmitted to the next generation, thus entrenching social disadvantage amongst this group and hampering social mobility. Our project aims to shed light on this question by bringing together two bodies of inquiry — research on social consequences of atypical employment and research on the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage. Building on the theoretical and empirical advances in these two fields of research, we aim to establish the empirical associations between different types of atypical employment in the parental generation and the development and life chances of children.

Principal Investigators: Anette Eva Fasang, Bastian Betthäuser (Oxford)

Funded by: OX-BER Research Partnership Seed Grant

Start date: 15th February 2019



Understanding Family Demographic Processes & In-Work Poverty in Europe - How Marriage, Parenthood, and Divorce Affect the Risk of In-work Poverty across the Life Course [Link]

This project analyses the role of family demographic processes (leaving parental home, marriage, divorce, and parenthood) for the probability of being working poor and how it changes over the life course. The research outputs will make at least three innovative contributions to understanding family demographic processes and in-work poverty in Europe. First, the researchers will undertake a systematic review of the family-related risk factors for in-work poverty. Second, they will analyse how the association between family demographic processes and in-work poverty varies across the life course and by gender across western democracies using CNEF data. As an example, they will address the crucial questions on whether entering parenthood and experiencing divorce increase the risk of in-work poverty and whether these associations strengthen or weaken as individuals grow older. Finally, they will study the association between family demographic processes and in-work poverty comparing two countries, Germany and the UK, where welfare measures against poverty differ greatly.

Applicants: Emanuela Struffolino, Johannes Giesecke, Christiaan Monden (Oxford), Zachary van Winkle (Oxford)



Contestations of the Liberal Script (SCRIPTS) - Global Challenges for the Model of Liberal Democracy and Market Economy [Link]

After the end of the Cold War, liberal democracy seemed to have prevailed for good. Today, 25 years later, however, the liberal model of political and economic order faces a profound crisis. The Cluster of Excellence Contestations of the Liberal Script (SCRIPTS) [Link] analyzes the contemporary controversies about the liberal order from a historical, global, and comparative perspective. What are the causes of the current contestations of the liberal script, and what are the consequences for the global challenges of the 21st century? The Cluster connects the academic expertise in the social sciences and area studies in Berlin, and thereby bridges prevailing methodological and institutional divides. In addition to Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, the Centre for East European and International Studies, the German Institute for Economic Research, the German Institute of Global and Area Studies, the Hertie School of Governance, and the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient are participating in the Cluster. Based on research collaborations with universities in all world regions, SCRIPTS addresses the diversity of the contestations and their inter-connections. At the same time, the Cluster maintains close cooperative ties with major political and cultural institutions.

Spokespersons: Tanja Börzel, Michael Zürn

Research Unit Coordinators: Sebastian Conrad, Anette Eva Fasang

Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft

Start date: 2019


High hopes and broken promises: Young adult life courses in Senegal [Link]

The research project investigates the demographic, historical and sociological conditions of Senegal that may give rise to contestations of the liberal script, particularly by its young adults. Many post-colonial countries in Africa have followed the liberal script – implementation of democracy, free markets and expanded education – yet have failed to achieve the liberal promises of meritocracy and prosperity. Such failed promises may lead to disillusioned youths that question the liberal script, resulting often in emigration that in turn threatens the borders and stability of the destination liberal democracies.

Principal Investigators: Anette Eva Fasang, Andreas Eckert

Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft

Start date: 2019


EQUALLIVES: Inequality, early adult life courses and economic outcomes at mid-life in comparative context [Link]

The Research project "EQUALLIVES: Inequality, early adult life courses and economic outcomes at mid-life in comparative context" – Prof. S. Harkness, University of Bath, Prof. J.P. Erola, University of Turku, Prof. A.E. Fasang, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Dr T. Leopold, University of Amsterdam and Prof. M.M. Jaeger, University of Copenhagen– funded by the NORFACE network (the New Opportunities for Research Funding Agency Cooperation in Europe) will begin its work soon as a part of the "fourth major transnational research programme on the topic of Dynamics of Inequality Across the Life-course: structures and processes (Acronym: DIAL)".

Start date: 2017