Prof. Dr. Michael Feldhaus
Department of Social Sciences (» Postal address)
Sociology of the Life Course and Social Inequality
Individual life courses are embedded in multilayered processes and social structures. They are not just the result of the interplay between physiological/genetic and psychological conditions on the one hand and social processes within social relations on the other, but also the result of individually experienced events and decisions within the context of existing situational framing conditions. In this regard, in addition to individual dispositions life courses are mainly influenced and structured by surrounding relationship structures, the material and immaterial resources available, the opportunity structures of the education system and the labour market and even municipal, welfare-state, politico-legal and cultural opportunities or restrictions. All the while, the conditions for life courses and the life chances associated with them in a society are unevenly distributed between different status groups and /or communities. Inclusion and exclusion processes manifest on various levels.
The work group “Sociology of the Life Course and Social Inequality” analyses the occurrence of biographical events and decisions and the ensuing path dependencies and life courses. The thematic focus is on microsociology and therefore on the analysis of structures and dynamics of social relations that play an important part in the life course. Consequently, the topics of childhood, youth, relationships and family play a prominent part in both research and teaching. A related question is how these life phases/areas and their inherent social relationship structures are influenced and structured through the given societal framing conditions (education, labour market, state, culture, media) and to what extent social inequalities result.