With its origins in the early 1990s, the Institute of Sociology is a relative newcomer to Jena: Sociology was not part of the University’s institutional setup during the GDR period. A few years after the reunification of Germany a number of social scientists from the disbanded Marxist-Leninist department of Friedrich Schiller University’s Faculty of Social Sciences sought to set up an Institute of Sociology, a plan that was not realized, however. Instead there was a complete change of staff. Teaching was initially carried out by guest lecturers. In the Winter semester of 1992-93, the first three professorial positions were filled, namely, in the sociology of industrial relations, general and theoretical sociology, and methods and empirical social research. A short time later, two further professorships were established, one in the theory of socialization and microsociology and the other in economic and social structural analysis. The Institute today has grown to comprise eight professorships along with some 50 members of academic staff who conduct research and teaching in the following areas:
We teach and supervise more than 750 home and foreign students who are variously enrolled on our Bachelor’s in Sociology (as both core and supplementary subject), Master’s in Sociology (including the options “Work, Economy, Welfare”, “Sustainability and Societal Transformation” and, as of the Winter semester 2019/2020, “Gender Relations in Modern Societies”) or Master’s in Social Theory.
Research and teaching at the Institute of Sociology in Jena is focused mainly on changes in modes of work, production, care and living in the early industrialized societies of the global North. These perspectives are embedded in global contexts and complemented by work on corresponding processes of change in Latin American and East Asian countries. Research at the Institute is characterized especially by the use of diverse paradigms, theories and methods which, when brought into dialogue and interplay, serve to demonstrate the strength of a sociological analysis of society. Despite, or indeed because of, this diversity of paradigms we share the approach of analyzing present-day societies as capitalist societies, though without advocating economic reductionism or equating the critique of society solely with the critique of capitalism. At the same time, analysis of the links between different lines of division in society and societal relations – such as class, gender, age, ethnicity and/or nationality – is fundamental to the Institute’s programe of research.
Our work is characterized by close cooperation as well as productive disputation: this finds expression in the public colloquia held by the Institute’s study sections, where shared thinking, analysis and debate take place. Thanks to its nationally and internationally renowned academic staff, the Institute at Jena is recognized as a strong research institution whose scholarly output also reaches and informs broader publics. → Click here for more on our research profile and specific research projects.
Alongside research, sociologists at Jena also place great emphasis on teaching and supervising students and training new upcoming academics. As well as conveying well-grounded knowledge in sociological theory and the qualitative and quantitative methods of empirical social research, the Institute offers teaching in the discipline’s classical strands, such as the sociology of gender and economics, political sociology and the sociology of industrial relations. Additionally, though, we also have strengths in areas that are only just beginning to attract broader attention, such as environmental sociology and the sociology of socio-ecological processes of transformation. A particular hallmark of the Institute is that it provides students with a comprehensive training in methods, introducing them in equal measure to the qualitative and quantitative methods of empirical social research, their potential and limitations, as well as ways of combining the two.