Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Department of Social Sciences

Research Streams

Here you will find an overview of the main research streams at the Institute of Social Sciences.

The following four research streams characterize the profile of the Institute of Social Sciences.


Democracy and transformation

The focus of research and teaching in this area is on an analysis of the interaction between players and institutions within democratic regimes and self-transforming systems. There is a particular focus on formation conditions, function logic, legitimation and change to political institutions, and the impact of institutions on key players’ behaviour and on the performance and quality of democracy. This includes a comparative analysis of deficiencies and crises in established democracies, as well as an investigation of political transformation processes across the entire continuum, from stable autocracies to hybrid systems right up to new democracies. Comparative democracy research takes a problem-centred approach to  all aspects of the political process (voting and citizen participation, representation of interests, public and  parliamentary opinion-forming, and government) and all levels of key players, including democratic participation in multi-level systems at a global level. From a geographical perspective, the work concentrates on the focal area of intraregional and interregional comparisons between political systems in  Western, Central and Eastern Europe and  the Islamic world, but also incorporates other global areas where relevant.

Here you can find current research projects on democracy and transformation.

Research and Teaching Areas

International Relations

Prof. Dr. Anselm Hager

Comparative Political Behavior

Prof. Dr. Heike Klüver

Comparative politics

Prof. Dr. Thomas Meyer

German Politics

Prof. Dr. Jochen Müller

Political Sociology and Social Policy

Prof. Dr. Hanna Schwander

Comparative Political Sciences and Political Systems of Eastern Europe

Prof. Dr. Silvia von Steinsdorff





Special Professorships

Democracy and democratisation

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Weßels

Comparative Study of Democracy and Authoritarianism
Prof. Dr. Gwendolyn Sasse




Migration and the urban world

The first pillar of this area focuses on migration and citizenship. Migration as a socio-political field is an excellent example of the processes of globalisation and transnationalisation. Migrants epitomise the powers of globalisation, which challenge and confirm national sovereignty and control. Migration processes enable an investigation of the social, economic, political and cultural dynamics and conflicts  which arise when people from very different backgrounds come into contact with each other. We focus in particular on social divisions at the intersections between ethno-nationality, gender, race, religion and sexual orientation.

Closely linked with the topic of migration is life in (globalised) cities, a situation which presents new challenges to people in terms of access to rights and resources; in addition, globalisation creates locally specific configurations of citizenship. Whilst certain cities and neighbourhoods demonstrate socio-spatial benefits, others reproduce unequal access to resources or even contribute to the emergence of urban inequality. The question of inclusion and exclusion mechanisms is tackled from both a theoretical and an empirical perspective, for example in terms of processes of gentrification, urban decay, changes to social infrastructure (networks and sociality) and the role of specific locations for the city (such as shopping streets, churches, schools and other local institutions).

Here you can find current research projects on migration and the urban world.

Research and Teaching Areas

Urban and Regional Sociology

Prof. Dr. Talja Blokland

Integration Research and Social Policy

Prof. Dr. Naika Foroutan

Diversity and Social Conflict

Prof. Dr. Gökçe Yurdakul

Special Professorships

Sociology and migration research

Prof. Dr. Ruud Koopmans

Migration and Transnationalism

Prof. Dr. Magdalena Nowicka



Social and political inequalities as well as work and lifestyle

Modern societies and democracies find themselves in a contentious area between political equality and social inequality. The “Social and Political Inequalities” research focus deals with the various manifestations, the associated conflicts, the causes and the legitimation patterns of inequality. Social inequalities are the result of unequal distribution and intergenerational transmission of economic, social and cultural capital, but can also be conveyed and moderated by the state via ascribed differentiating categories such as age, gender or ethnicity. In a globalised world, social inequalities also arise from different levels of integration in international production and financial regimes, and thus cross the borders of societies organised by national states. Political inequalities are often socially encoded, such as the interest in and knowledge of politics which varies by class, status and environment. In addition, political inequalities are caused by the differential distribution of citizenship rights.


Changes to work, gender and private lifestyle are looked at from action theory, organisational theory, institutional theory and international comparative perspectives. Work is examined as the central dimension of social inequality and societal power structures within the overall context of work and life. Social and operational organisation of work is investigated within various social, politico-economic and socio-historical contexts and in its interactions with individual patterns of life (e.g., care and career). In addition to the macroanalytical and mesoanalytical perspectives of socio-structural and institutional upheavals to working society, this area also takes into account socialisation processes relating to work, lifestyle, gender and family on a microanalytical level. Finally, along an explicitly critical and normative scale, this area investigates the consequences of current work and lifestyle developments for social and political behaviour and the emergence of new forms of social relationships and collective and civic behaviour, as well as their impact on the processes of social interaction, social inequality, social and geographical mobility, and demographic development.

Here you can find current research projects on social and political inequalities as well as work and lifestyle.

Research and Teaching Areas

Social Research and Methods

Prof. Dr. Johannes Giesecke


Prof. Dr. Steffen Mau

Sociology of Work and Gender Relations

Prof. Dr. Christine Wimbauer


Prof. Dr. Hannah Zagel

Special Professorships

Educational Sociology and Labor market Research

Prof. Jutta Allmendinger, PhD

Sociology of Social Policy

Prof. Dr. Philipp Lersch

Sociology of the Future of Work

Prof. Dr. Phillip Staab

Industrial Ecology and Climate Change

Prof. Dr. Helga Weisz



Science studies as well as political and sociological theory

Theories play a role in all sub-disciplines of the social sciences. Theory can therefore be viewed as a cross-sectional topic in the department’s content-related work, reflected in areas such as engaging with theories of inequality, democracy and institutional theories, (micro) theories of human behaviour, theories of migration and diversity, theories of urbanisation, gender theories, theories of work, theories of international affairs, war theories, and theories of scientific research. The constitutive element here is a conceptual and historical/contextual determination of the relationship between political and social practices, structures and movements on the one hand, and  political and social ideas, theories and societal self-descriptions on the other. Theories are understood as possible answers to political and  social challenges. The arguments developed in theoretical texts are thus analysed as an interaction between empirical and descriptive stocktaking, problem diagnosis, and the conception of potential solutions.

Here you can find current research projects on science studies as well as political theory and sociological theory.

Research and Teaching Areas


Prof. Dr. Andreas Reckwitz

Political Theory

Prof. Dr. Christian Volk


Special Professorships

Science Studies

Prof. Dr. Martin Reinhart

Social-scientific Methods with focus on Survey Methodology 

Prof. Dr. Sabine Zinn