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Last updated Mai. 29, 2007


English Abstracts 1999

English Abstracts 1999
Edition 1/1999

Alois Hahn
The Systems Theory of Wilhelm Diltheys.

The article suggests a reading of Dilthey, that rehabilitates him as a sociologist and declares him a prominent precursor of the theory of social systems developed by Niklas Luhmann. Parallels are obvious: For both, "Verstehen" (understanding) and "Sinn" (meaning) are necessarily related to each other, "Sinn" is a operating mode for conciousness and society, the problem of the hermeneutic circle and the recursive operating of selfreferential systems are translatable, the social is dealt with on the level of social and cultural subsystems and interaction, etc. The three theoretical complexes: "Verstehenstheorie", the theory of differentiation of cultural and organizational systems and autobiographic associations are systematically related to one another. It can thus be shown that the operative linkage of meanings -- the central assumption in "Verstehenstheorie" -- lays the foundation of a new tradition in differentiation theory. For Dilthey as well as for Luhmann differentiation is oriented not towards the division of labour but towards the linkage of temporised "Sinn"-events.

Hans-Jürgen Aretz
Neither "Exchange" nor "Power": "Influence" as a Mechanism of Coordination in International Cooperation.

The article argues that the actorsí orientation toward the "logic of community" guarantees a more durable stability as far as a transnational formation of cooperation and order is concerned. Nevertheless, in view of a "flexibility management", this type of action orientation must necessarily also be able to cover the logic of benefit, of power and of discourse which is centered in the field of research of international relations by the currently discussed big paradigms. This is then specified to "international regimes", which are conceived as transnational political community systems, where "influence" is the related medium of interaction. With this, "influence" is considered another control mechanism of action which inches to the fore in the "debate on globalization". The conclusion draws on the fact that signs of an emerging global civil society might be discovered through a transnational linking of such "issue specific" community systems and the growing inclusion of non-governmental actors.

Anne Waldschmidt
The Subject and Power. Human Genetics as an Order of the Self.

Since 1945, genetic advising and diagnostics have moved away from paternalistic intervention strategies and evolved non-directive, customer-oriented services founded in communications theory. At the same time, various subject concepts have been developed, through discussion within the field, that are closely tied to the institutional-development phases and scientific history of human genetics. The postulate of individual self-determination, which has been a primary focus of genetic advising concepts since the mid-1980s, has not done away with the fieldís basic eugenic-preventive orientation, however. Instead, this basic orientation has been adapted to the premises of individualized modern life. Human genetics can now be seen as the dispositive of a normalizing disciplinary power that uses special procedures -- "testing" and "confession" -- to encourage the development of the autonomous, open subject.

Waldemar Vogelgesang
Identity-presentation in Youth Cultures and Scene-creation in the Internet.

Our ethnographic field research in various media-communicated youth scenes verify what the latest judgement of the sociology of youth represent as a general conclusion: They are sources and focal points for small life-worlds and style communities, whose juvenile members are characterised by a high degree of freedom in their self design and action dramaturgy as well as a considerable media competence. In the Internet there is not only a continuation of these processes of diversification in adolescent media cultures but also a virtual sphere can be evoked by manyfold ways of net communication which speeds up the differentiation of individual and particular forms of self-presentation and group affiliation. For example cyberpunks and online role-players illustrate how symbols which are typical of particular scenes lead not only to an aestheticism and revaluation of everyday life but also through strategies to a fictional exploration of different identities. Their acting with particular group signs, fictional plots and fluid identities announces an experimental field for a playful test of the feasible. It also allows commuting between inner and outer worlds and can be regarded as an experience which is existential for a life in a multi optional society (Gross).

Uwe Krähnke
Dynamic Theory. The Research Programme of Georg Simmel.

Two weaknesses can still be identified in the discussion of Simmelís work. On the one hand, there is a tendency to interpret his work centered around his person, and on the other, no convincing theoretical explanation for the fragmentation of his work  has been found. In this article it is suggested to view Simmelís lifeís work as a self-devised research programme. Simmel attempted a dynamic generation of theory in the field of culture and social sciences. For this, he employed four cognitive models as analytical instrumtents: an epistemological model of interaction; a methodical model of abduction; a metaphysical model of immanent transcendence and; the stylistic model of the essay. The metatheoretical investigation of the problem of a dynamified generation of theory leads -- so the argument -- not to a systematic theory with a consistent structure of thought, but rather to a consistency in the development of thought. Herein lies the actual unifying factor of his lifeís work and a determination of the type of theory represented by Georg Simmel.

Uwe Schimank
Sociology and Chess.

Sociological analysis of far-reaching and radical societal dynamics must do away with the hope for general theoretical laws. From the literature about chess sociological analysis could learn that it should turn to the discovery and reflection of partial theoretical patterns related to episodes of societal dynamics. An analogy of societal dynamics with games of chess helps to clarify further this plea.

English Abstracts 1999
Issue 2/1999

Marshall D. Sahlins
The Sociology of Primitive Exchange

The significance of non-economic factors in the organization of economic life can be assessed through a close analysis of the interaction between forms, material conditions and social relations of exchange in primitive societies. By analytically differentiating exchange acts according to a continuum of three forms of  reciprocity (generalized, balanced and negative reciprocity) the direct connection between economic transactions and the specific structure of social relations becomes apparent. In particular, it is the degree of kinship relations, spatial nearness and distance, relative prosperity and the kind of goods exchanged which determine the predominant reciprocity norms of economic interaction and which coin, if in different ways, structure and functionality of social entities.

Ingo Bode/Hanns-Georg Brose
The New Frontiers of Organised Reciprocity: About the Change of Solidarity Patterns in Market and Nonprofit Organisations

In modern societies, exchange relations based on reciprocity are central conditions of the emergence and maintenance of social solidarity. Thus the recent discussion about the erosion of solidarity should be focused on the change of reciprocity patterns. In this view, the organisation perpective is a promising one. With regard to processes of transformation which actually take place within both market and nonprofit organizations, we can see that the frontiers which have marked the reciprocity arrangements of the industrial era of modernity are displaced -- which is also due to cultural evolutions. In many cases, there is a decreasing level of inclusion within the new arrangements, with a tighter corridor of exchange as a major consequence. In some fields, however, we can also see this corridor to become wider so that there is a differentiated change of solidarity patterns today. This change has an important impact regarding the redistribution of welfare.

Helmut K. Anheier
The Third Sector in International Comparison: Economic and Civil Society Dimensions of Nonprofit Organisations

The set of institutions located between the market firm and the state agency can be measured along very different economic and civil society dimensions such as employment, different types of expenditures, revenue streams, volunteering, membership or number of entities. No attempts have been made to combine the various dimensions and measures in a systematic and theoretically informed way in an effort  to develop more comprehensive representations of nonprofit sector size and structure, particularly within the framework of cross-national, comparative analysis. To fill this methodological and theoretical gap in the literature is the primary purpose of this paper. It does so in three steps: first, with the help of data from eight different countries the paper explores different representations of "nonprofit sector maps" by combining a number of key dimensions; second, the paper identifies common patterns among these various representations and projections in an effort to establish relatively distinct types of nonprofit sectors cross-nationally; specifically, it links these patterns and types to existing nonprofit sector theories, particularly the social origins theory; and finally, the paper relates theoretical insights to current trends and development.

Cornelia Bohn
Interfaces: Conversation and Writing in the Transition to Modernity

The fundamental principle of this text is the conception that forms of societies are always forms of communication. That is why the transformation from stratified to functionally differentiated society is analysed -- referring to media theory -- by the distinction between oral and written as such. It will be shown that stratified societies focus their communicative self-interpretation on the oral. Conversation can be seen as its elegant prototype. The written forms are treated as derivatives. The transition to modern age goes along with the re-evaluation of the distinction between oral and written forms of communication in their very sense. Written forms -- not yet oriented towards interacitve use ñ are practised and commented critically and finally appreciated in contemporary texts (from Rousseau to the German Romantic period). Therefore the change in the type of the differentiation of society is connected with a shift in semantics of communication: The difference between oral and written is now going to become re-introducible as a re-entry at the side of writing.

Jörg Hüttermann
Culture as Irritation? On how Luhmannean Systems Theory Deals with the Problematics of Cultural Encounter

Systems theory of the Luhmann type in general claims superiority especially with regard to the sociology of interethnic relations. This is why the article challenges the contributions of systems theory to that field. Proceeding from a critique of the fundamental ideas of systems theory, the article takes five steps: First, it argues that the primacy of its inner consistency versus correspondence of theory and empirical world leads systems theory to draw tautological and teleological conclusions. Second, systems theory makes invisible the fact that ethnic and cultural conflicts are intimately related to social stratification and shortage of resources. Third, systems theory refutes competing theories of interethnic relations by falsely accusing them of applying premodern principles. Fourth, due to its teleological assumptions, systems theory plays down those social problems that are combined with interethnic relations and conceives them as beeing merely transitional. Finally the author suggests that a sociology of interethnic relations should not burden itself with the intrinsic problems of systems theory. For the present there is no reason why a sociology of interethnic relations should change its pragmatic style to make use of different theoretical traditions.

Gerhard Hauck
A Radical Rupture? Niklas Luhmann and Social-Scientific Tradition

In Niklas Luhmannís own estimation his theory of society marks a radical rupture with the complete tradition of social science. In reality it is nothing but an uninterrupted continuation of quite specific lines in this tradition. He demonstratively expels all the older approaches -- and brings them back in through the sidedoor clandestinely one after another. This is shown in the article for his reflections on epistemology, on the concept of society, on autopoiesis, and on the theory of evolution.

English Abstracts 1998
Edition 3/1999

Dieter Langewiesche
On the Value of Historical Experiences in a Society of Collapse: Germany in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century

The breakdown of the GDR in 1989 is perfectly in line with modern German history if one interprets it as a history of collapse and reorganization: the failure of the revolution of 1948, breakdown and the founding of the empire in 1871, the failure of the revolution of 1918/19, the crisis-ridden decades of collapse between 1918 and 1948. All these events present modern Germany as a society of collapse. A historical experience that provides a society with shared basic values can hardly emerge from a history of recurrent collapses. However, German history of collapse also provides continuities of historical experience, two of which may be viewed as being of particular value for the perception of history in unified Germany: the complex of experiences of nationalization and europeanization on the one hand and the one of republican state and social order on the other.

János Kis
Between Reform and Revolution

In 1989 Timothy Garton Ash introduced the neologism "refolution" to characterize the paradoxical character of the rapid and unforeseen radical changes in "Eastern Europe": With regard to their results these changes were revolutionary without a doubt, however, if we look at the course of the events, they bear a strong resemblance to far-reaching processes of social reform. In the first part of the paper, Kis discusses continuity and discontinuity of the legal and constitutional order in the process of transformation towards a parliamentary democracy on the one hand, the configuration of political actors of the establishment and the opposition on the other hand, and develops a conceptual frame of reference which allows to analyse "coordinated transitions". These are defined as an autonomous type of structural change, which seems to be more likely than radical revolutions in developed industrial societies in the second half of the 20th century. In the second part, the author presents five hypotheses concerning the conditions, which might induce political actors to favour the option of a coordinated transition to those of revolution or reform.

Frank Ettrich
Historical Contingency and Breakdown Dynamics

After 1989, the unforeseen and complete collapse of the Soviet Union and the socialist systems of their former satelites was often seen as providing a great challenge to the analysing and explanatory capacities of sociology and social theory. What happened to this claim? Almost ten years after the historic events there is a wide range of literatur on this topic and a series of attempts at explaining the events of 1989-1991 can be distinguished. However, it has not become any clearer what exactly these challenges to the explanatory capacities of present-day social sciences consist in. This article tries to identify three problems: Besides a problem of perspective, which in the word of R. Bendix could be termed "a feeling of inevitability caused by retrospection", there are foremost (and still) conceptional difficulties with the exact definition of the object of inquiry (what has collapsed?) and with the reconstruction of long-term and situationally contingent causal factors (revolution and/or collapse).

Rainer Weinert
Divellation and Personalization, or Who was running the GDR?

This article analyzes the structure of the bureaucratic administrative staff of the party state. The structural core of the structure of the administrative staff was the apparatus of the central committee with the heads of department at the top. Yet since this organization was dominated by controll functions tasks, the development of strategic leading decisions was shifted to special administrative staffs (divellation). The mediation between the organization and the divellated staffs were carried out by actors with a proven bond of loyality to the party leader (personalization). This thesis is exemplified by the apparatus of the secret service and the military, the economic commission and the so called "Bereich Kommerzielle Koordinierung". Based upon this empirical analysis the article makes an attempt to answer the question: Who was running the GDR?

Bogdan W. Mach/Wlodzimierz Wesolowski
Politicians in Times of Transformation: "Transformational Correctness" or Genuine Differences in Perception?

The paper presents selected results of the 1996 study of top Polish politicians -- members of the 1993-97 Parliament and leaders of those important political parties which failed to get into this Parliament. Presented results pertain to five aspects of politiciansí attitudes: (1) opinions on qualities of persons who should be vs. actually are involved in politics, (2) normatively accepted definitions of politics, (3) visions of the "good state", (4) visions of democracy, and (5) opinions on what defines political views as being either on the "left" or on the "right." As a result there is a strong attitudinal similarity among politicians of differing political parties and of divergent political orientations. This finding is interpreted as reflection of a fundamental "track similarity" in the way in which Polish politicians perceive the most important tasks confronting the whole political class in times of systemic transformation. "Transformational correctness" -- the belief that in such times politicians should have (or at least should display) certain views -- might be a strong force behind this similarity.

Rainer Neef
Forms and Social Positions of the Informal Economy in a Transformation Country: Romania

Informal economy, extensive in socialist societies has been growing in transforming East European Countries since 1989. More so in Romania, where there is growing scarcity since the early 80s. About one half of Romanian households are engaged in informal work. In our explorative research among 100 households, we identified forms of continuing "secondary economy": own-account informal work, firm-related activities of employees -- and new more polarized forms: unrecorded workers, and informal small employers/self employed. Concerning household situations, informal economy on the one hand contributes to social polarization, creating wealth among dynamic households, and "eternalizing" the dependency of poor households. On the other hand, a strong group of households arrives to escape poverty or to confirm a median position by informal activities. Considering these insights, a model of a "polarizing" informal economy seems too simple. On the whole, in a transformation country like Romania, dynamism or passivity of the subjects, household and social network conditions appear as important as capital assets and market positions establish social positions.

Thomas Lemke
The Kingís Head - Right, Discipline and Government in Foucault

In the social sciences and philosophy Foucault is still regarded as a thinker who in his last works abandoned the genealogy of power in favor of a theory of the subject. On the basis of a comprehensive reconstruction of the Foucaultian problematics of power this article sets out to present a better account of the theoretical shift in question. After reviewing Foucaultís criticism towards the juridical conception of power, it argues that the concentration on discipline in the context of a "microphysics of power" leads to theoretical problems that seriously limit Foucaultís analysis, especially the account of subjectivity and the state. In the late 70s Foucault introduces the notion of government to actively address these problems. By expanding his conception of the state and subjectivity in a perspective that permits to pose the question of their precise relationship, Foucaultís later work does not represent a discontinuity but an elaboration and extension of the problematics of power.

English Abstracts 1998
Edition 4/1999

Lothar Krappmann
The Role of Sociology in the 10th Report on the Youth by the Federal Government

Every four years the German Federal Government orders expert commissionsë reports on children and adolescents to inform the lower and upper house of the German parliament. These reports comprise comprehensive information about childrensë lives and the conditions of their development. The reports, presented by heterogeneously composed commissions, which several times included sociologists, influence publicës ideas of children and adolescents as well as political measures and programs. Sociologists should contribute to these processes but also learn from these reports.

Ulrich Beck
The Future of Work, or: The Political Economy of Insecurity

Due to the growing influence of information techniques, globalization, and individualization, work has been put under strong pressure to change. The decrease in the total volume of work has had a far-reaching impact on its structure ñ working conditions shift from full-time and normalized to non-normalized ñ as well as on the life situation of individuals ñ precarious working conditions make individuals develop a political economy of insecurity. The thus induced change of modern societies from an employment centered work society to an employment centered knowledge society can be traced scientifically in the dimensions of reflexivity as a well of production, transsectoral dynamics, as well as a deterritorialization of work and information technological indeterminism. To react to this situation in a sociopolitical way, political recommendations are developed, while the setting up of the prerequisites of paid citizen labor is viewed as being a particularly suitable means for reforming state and society.

Bernhard Nauck
Migration, Globalization, and the Welfare State

During the last four decades, Germany has turned into an immigrant society. While its government still holds on to the principle of descent as the basis for inclusion, welfare state institutions serve as powerful instruments of social integration, as they provide forceful mechanisms of migrants' integration. However, globalization processes increasingly interfere with these national mechanisms of inclusion. The universalization of individualistic legal norms, legitimized by natural law, which will change migration flows as well as prospective social integration, is extremely important. In this process, the significance of the allocation of human capital will decrease compared to minority-specific social capital. Under these conditions the most promising option for a familiy policy which addresses itself to migrant families will be a policy which tries to intensify their normative orientation towards civil society.

Hildegard Maria Nickel
Women - An Appendix of Models of the Future? The Gender-blind Discourse on the Future of Work

On the basis of the report of the Future Commission set up by the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation, the article discusses the gender bias of discourses on the future. Firstly it focuses on the aspect of gender with regard to the struggle for the distribution of work; secondly it takes into account the differences between East and West-Germany; finally it discusses two aspects of the report: On the one hand the reform project of the Future Commission emphasizes the need to improve innovative capacities and to strength human resources as a precondition for maintaining competitiveness and high-skilled jobs in economic sectors that face international competition. On the other hand the Commission suggests a low-wage job market that is socially acceptable. Both strategies have unspoken consequences for the gender system and the gender division of labour.

Birgit Sauer
Transition to Democracy? Gender Critique of Social Science Theories of Transformation and Democratization

The "malestream" in social science research on transformation in former state-socialist countries is gender-blind. Neither empirical studies about the transition to democracy nor theories of transformation consider gender to be an important category of social and political change. Models of modernisation and social differentiation as well as concepts of transition to democracy, theories of political action, and political culture approaches are leading to specific gender deficits in the analysis and theory of social and political transformation. Thus, in order to develop a concept of political transition and democratization that is gender-susceptible, we are in need of an epistemological turn: Transition and democratization are not gender-neutral processes which only affect women, men and gender relations. Rather, gender is an immanent relation of transformation and democratization or ñ in a strong version ñ political transition and the restructuring of gender relations are aspects of shifting boundaries between public and private as well as state and society.

Ortwin Renn
Scientific Policy Consulting: Aspiration and Reality

Modern pluralist societies face many problems of political legitimation. One possibility to enhance legitimation is to establish scientific advisory committees. These committees have the mandate to identify problems, to provide background knowledge for decision makers and to demonstrate and assess options to resolve conflicts and problems. The effectiveness of scientific advisory committees depends on three conditions: they have to be capable of resolving competing knowledge claims, they need to find access to the logic, rationale and communication structure of the political decision makers (Anschlußfähigkeit); and they have to provide a surplus of legitimizing power to those who use their advice. The dominant model of scientific councelling in Germany and elsewhere is inspired by decisionistic (neo)corporatism, i.e. the strict analytical and organizational division between knowledge and political action. The paper shows that this model can not fulfill the three conditions of effective policy consulting. Rather than trying to improve this model in itself, the paper recommends a new discursive approach of consultation including a sequential incorporation of scientists, stakeholders, and representatives of the public at large.

Eva Barlösius/Barbara Maria Köhler
Reporting to the Public - Representations of Socially Contested Facts

Reports are highly contested social facts, vested with a high degree of legitimacy. They belong to those forms of representations ñ "official" classifications, statistics, reports ñ which are used by the state's institutions and social actors to enforce their interests. Sociology should be interested in the problem, why some of these reports are recognized as legitimate representations while others never achieve this status. Consequentially these reports seem to be insignificant, representing a minority's point of view. Since the procedural aspect of reporting is of great importance with regard to the final result, we concentrate on the formal and institutional frame of this process. We show that rules of procedure contribute to reports, since they make it possible to report legitimately on contested facts. Thus, they provide a basis to achieve consensus over disputed topics.