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I study the causes and effects of social inequality in postindustrial societies from a comparative perspective that exploits differences among stratification systems. Employing quantitative analysis and social class schemes for the description of contemporary and past inequality, I research social mobility to describe the role of inequality during childhood for educational attainment and occupational positioning later in life.
Besides studying how inequality is reproduced over generations, recently I began to analyze the impact of inequality on political orientation. While the former research addresses institutional processes regulating the mobility of the middle classes, the latter addresses important sociopolitical changes in times of increasing inequality. Following the Ph. Only recently, inequality in admission to higher education became subject of sociological interest.
Universities use admission tests to regulate access to study courses effectively becoming the gatekeeper to middle class positions. While American research pointed out that increasing competition can advantage aspiring students from privileged backgrounds, little is known about the role of admission tests in creating inequality in access to university or choice of field of study in Germany. Generally, universities erect admission testing in Germany if demand outpaces supply for a specific field of study.
Either the type of admission testing or the shifting level of required grades might influence social inequality in admission by selecting on capacities that are more common among students from better-off families or indirectly through informing parenting styles years ahead of the actual point of admissions.
This research tries to overcome the theoretical, methodological and empirical gap in inequality in higher education research by explaining the role admission testing plays in recreating inequality in Germany. It also aims at providing policy makers with knowledge about the degree to which different admission systems cause varying levels of diversity among students and develop best practice models to regulate access effectively and allow for higher levels of diversity.
New Classes and Mobility. The Research connects the study of occupational change with the research on social mobility. At least two hypotheses relating societal change to inequality have been formulated in each research tradition. First, the skill-biased technological change hypothesis suggests that the surge in educational attainment and ongoing automation and computerization results in an upgrading of the occupational structure that leads to an increasing demand in high-skilled non-manual jobs and a continuous decline in routine occupations.
Similarly, industrialization theory suggested that the upgrading of occupational structures would result in increasing social fluidity due to increasingly meritocratic recruitment and the substitution of white collar occupations for traditional working class jobs. Second, the routinization hypothesis suggests that technological change is task biased to the extent that only those low skilled jobs vanish which can be easily substituted through the investment into new technology.
Consequently, routinization could result in a simple shift from low-grade routine occupations, e. If social fluidity is similar between old and new low-grade jobs, routinization could effectively counteract fluidity increasing societal change. In the latter case, substantial horizontal social mobility could occur between industrial and interpersonal occupations, without any vertical change.
On the contrary, however, the expansion of highly skilled occupations could theoretically result in a u-shaped occupational distribution, hence polarization. The latter is true especially if emerging or expanding low-grade classes are populated by outsider positions within the secondary labor market segment.
If institutions which disadvantage inter-segment mobility also affect vertical social mobility chances, a decrease of social fluidity would become possible. Social Mobility and Stratification. For the present purpose, we define social mobility as the intergenerational movement between parental and individual social positions.
While the dominant tradition of mobility research states that country differences in social mobility are either minor and mostly unsystematic or uninteresting, newer research suggests that social mobility varies in systematic ways across countries.
Exploiting cross-country variation, we ask to what extent mobility differs between countries that differ in terms of inequality in several different dimensions. Initially, we single out four dimensions, i.
We then propose several indicators to map the stratification in these dimensions — e. Finally, we study the multivariate relationship between levels of inequality and absolute and relative social mobility to understand the relative importance of each inequality dimension.
Social Mobility in the United States. We propose to use GSS data to estimate the shape and degree of social inequality in educational opportunity, returns to education, and occupational mobility rates for each U. The specific aims of this research project are 1 to relate cross-state differences in social inequality in educational opportunity to differences in the demographic makeup of states as well as differences in state educational and social policies; 2 to investigate the relationship between cross-state differences in social inequalities in educational opportunity and social mobility; 3 to assess the mediating role of education for social mobility processes in each state.
Right voting in times of material inequality and mass migration in Germany. At the same time, PEGIDA, an association that organizes regular anti-immigrant demonstrations in Dresden since fall , has been the most successful right social movement since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany. Reliable evidence about the characteristics of individuals to vote for or identify as extreme right is however scant.
This project aims at understanding the factors that drive right wing party identification. It compares the influence of subjective and objective characteristics and studies the effect of changing attributes on party identification.
It rests on empirical analyses of the socio-demographics of extreme right party identification in Germany since Employing data from the Socio-Economic Panel SOEP , we study the objective demographic, socio-economic and subjective well-being, emotions, attitudes and fears attributes characterizing Germans that switch to right-party identification.
Additionally, we ask whether right-wing identification is also the result of intergenerational and intragenerational social mobility as suggested by several recent publications like, e. Determinants of Perceived Social Conflicts. While most research has focused on objective determinants of perceived social conflict, we contribute a new facet to that discussion by assessing the relevance of collective stratification beliefs as an independent predictor of conflict perceptions.
After formulating theoretical positions that give precedence to two factors in explaining perceptions of social conflicts — objective inequality and the collective subjective awareness thereof —, we use individual-level data from the International Social Survey Programme as well as suitable country-level indicators and empirically test both hypotheses.
We take the results of these tests to judge the mediating effect that an aggregated egalitarian middle- class imagery has on the relationship between objective inequality and perceived social conflicts measured through an additive scale. Educational Inequality and Structural Change.
For this purpose, we expand the Breen-Goldthorpe model of educational investment behavior in order to show formally how the dynamics of inequality in college attainment are related to the change in economic resource inequality and costs of college education over time. In our empirical analysis we use five different national representative surveys and focus on the chances of college attainment by parental education for birth cohorts from to Our results confirm that relative inequality in college attainment, measured in terms of odds ratios, declined over most of the 20 th century with equalization leveling off beginning with birth cohorts in the s.
At the same time, the absolute differences in the percentage of graduates among children of college-educated parents and children of non-graduates have remained remarkably stable across the century. Based on our formal model, we also explore future scenarios for the trends in college attainment inequality. Under the assumption of stagnating college attainment and persisting patterns of economic inequality, our simulation predicts a rise in relative inequality in college attainment by parental education, revealing a possible U-shape trend in the near future.
In preparation. Hertel, Florian R. American Sociological Review, 84 6 , S. Acta Sociologica , Early Access, pp. Bernardi, Fabrizio; Hertel, Florian R. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility , 58, pp. Pfeffer, Fabian T. Social Forces , 94 1 , pp.
Book Chapters and other publications. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, pp. Open Access. Eckert, Falk B. In: Relatif , 32, pp. In: Seibring, Anne ed. Frick, Joachim R. Education Olaf Groh-Samberg, Prof. Fabian T.
Soziale Ungleichheit. Eine Einführung in die zentralen Theorien