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Regional energy transition as a social process

Thanks to the renowned Emmy Noether-programme, sociologist Prof. Dr. Jannika Mattes may establish her own junior research group.

Conference of the Research Unit "Horizontal Europeanization" Berlin, November 2-3, 2017

Organized by Jürgen Gerhards & Steffen Mau

The Research Unit “Horizontal Europeanization” examines processes of European Integration that occur in the interaction between administrations, organizations and individuals. We work in seven research fields and together generate more general knowledge on the scale and scope of Horizontal Europeanization. Our team is composed of eleven researchers based in Germany and Austria.


Jannika Mattes awarded for excellent research

Prof. Dr. Jannika Mattes was awarded the “prize for excellent research 2017” by the Universitätsgesellschaft Oldenburg e. V. (UGO) as part of the opening session of the academic year 2017/18. The prize was endowed with 5,000 € and honors her contributions to international innovation research in a combined organizational and regional perspective.

CES-Conference in Glasgow from 12 until 14 July 2017

Horizontal Europeanization: Europe as an emerging social entity between the national and the global sphere
Chair: Martin Heidenreich

The Contested Constitution of Wage Coordinating Institutions in Social Services from a Multi-Scalar Perspective.

Nele Dittmar, University of Linz

Discussant: Juan Medrano, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Discussion „Demokratiekrise und soziale Ungleichheit in der EU“

As part of the series of lectures "Europa zwischen Auflösung und Neustart" (Europe between breakup and restart), organized by the "Kooperationsstelle Hochschule-Gewerkschaften", Prof. Dr. Hauke Brunkhorst, Professor for Sociology, Universität Flensburg, and Prof. Dr. Martin Heidenreich, Professor for Social Stratification, Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, and Chair of the Jean Monnet Centre for Europeanisation and Transnational Regulations (CETRO) discussed "Democracy crisis and social inequality in the EU" on 24 April 2017.


Call Summer School "Identifications and Solidarity in Europe"

Project meeting of the DFG-research group in Siegen

The research group members "Horizontal Europeanization" met from 23 to 24 March to discuss the first results and next project steps, especially the intended special issue in the Austrian Journal for Sociology (Österreichische Zeitschrift für Soziologie), which focuses on power and counter-power. Each sub-project presented the first results of the second project phase. Furthermore, two PhD students reported the progress of their work to the group.

Disputation Katharina Zimmermann

Katharina Zimmermann successfully defended her PhD thesis on “Local Europeanisation by cohesion policy - The European Social Fund in local labour market policies” (27 February 2017). The first supervisor was Prof. Dr. Martin Heidenreich. University of Oldenburg, the second supervisor was Prof. Dr. Paolo Graziano, University of Padua.

Further members of the committee: Prof. Dr. Markus Tepe, Prof. Dr. Jannika Mattes, Prof. Dr. Ingo Mose (all University of Oldenburg)


Katharina Zimmermann

Local Europeanisation by cohesion policy - The European Social Fund in local labour market policies

In the context of an ‘activation turn’ in many European welfare states, the local level gained increasing relevance in the last decades. While labour market policies were traditionally governed at the national level, social services were mostly a subnational competence. Activation policies somehow sought to combine the two and put greater emphasis on local responsibilities, and a general trend of fiscal and administrative decentralisation fostered the relevance of the local level. At the same time, at the European level the European Social Fund (ESF) made a career from an unconditional simple financing instrument towards a complex governance tool; meant to back up European social and employment policies in close combination with tools such as reporting or benchmarking. Greater coordination of domestic policies in social and employment policies, where the EU had no regulative competences, was sought to be achieved via ‘bypass strategies’ which directly focused on the subnational implementation systems of the member states.

Against the backdrop of these scenarios, the dissertation is interested in the actual role of the ESF in local activation policies. It wants to know how local social and employment policy fields react to the ESF, what shapes their reactions, and what the effects of these reactions are in terms of change in local policy fields. By drawing on both sociologists’ and political scientists’ literature on welfare state reforms and Europeanisation trends, as well as a sociological field approach, the study develops a unique perspective on the role of European money at the local level. By comparing comprehensive qualitative data from 18 local case studies in six European countries (Sweden, France, Poland, UK, Italy, and Germany) and deploying an innovative mixed-method approach, a typology of local responses to the ESF are unravelled. The first type are the so-called ‘refuseniks’; cases where local social and employment actors experienced the ESF more as an (often administrative) burden than as a welcome financial gift. These cases were mostly in a good socio-economic situation and show higher financial and political stability than other cases under study; factors which particularly mattered when lower funding was available and actors had not very high administrative capacities. In the second type, it was observable that actors with clear and pre-defined own ideas used the ESF-funding to finance these ideas. Such ‘cream skimmer’ cases did not experience significant change of their local policy fields through the ESF. In the third type (the ‘transformers’), this was clearly different: here, local social and employment policies were strongly shaped by the ESF, as will be discussed and illustrated.



14:00 Uhr, Campus Haarentor, A6-4-411

Drawing on Easton’s political system approach we identify the 2004, 2009 and 2014 European elections and the financial and economic crisis as inputs to the EU political system. On the output side, social policy has been substantially removed from the priorities of the EU political agenda already prior to the crisis. To understand this discrepancy between input and output we ask if and how inputs have altered power relationships among core actors in the system. We argue that although crisis-generated demand could have predicted European social policies becoming more relevant in order to cope with the crisis, support in form of election results empowered actors interested in deepening economic integration and austerity policies. We present new empirical data contributing to this argument from different perspectives and sources.

Disputation Norbert Petzold

Norbert Petzold successfully defended his dissertation “Individualisation as a way to exit long-term benefit receipt? The link between long-term beneficiaries’ appropriations of the German minimum income scheme and their life planning regarding benefit receipt” (15 February 2017).

The first supervisor was Prof. Dr. Martin Heidenreich, University of Oldenburg, the second supervisor was PD Dr. Irene Dingeldey, University of Bremen. Further committee members were Prof. Dr. Michael Feldhaus, Prof. Dr. Jannika Mattes und Prof. Dr. Ute Koglin (not in the photo).


PhD thesis Norbert Petzold “Individualisation as a way to exit long-term benefit receipt? The link between long-term beneficiaries’ appropriations of the German minimum income scheme and their life planning regarding benefit receipt”

Against the background of a high incidence of long-term benefit receipt, i.e. entitlement duration of two years and more, and an increasing focus of interventions on the individual beneficiary, the dissertation of Norbert Petzold studies how individualised policies within the German minimum income scheme (German MIS) serve long-term beneficiaries as a way out of benefit receipt. In this regard, individualisation can be considered as a paradigm and strategy of activation policies, which puts an emphasis on individual beneficiaries in order to increase chances and effectiveness of their exits from minimum income schemes. It is argued that the individualisation paradigm is institutionally manifested in three dimensions (“integrated services”, “conditionality”, “personalisation”), which address previously separated action fields of appropriating the institutional context of a minimum income scheme and individual life planning regarding benefit receipt in a combined way: beneficiaries are requested to exit entitlement by means of individualised policies. This means that beneficiaries of the German MIS are expected to make use of services in order to improve their individual employability, to meet conditions of conduct in order to prevent welfare dependency, and to inform their case workers on their personal situation in order to allow specifying reasons for and solutions of their entitlements.

By applying an agency approach considering different temporal orientations of actors and a qualitative research design, the link between the two strands of appropriating the institutional context, on the one hand, and individual life planning regarding benefit receipt, on the other hand, is reconstructed and presented in the form of an empirically grounded typology. The systematic analysis of 22 problem-centred interviews with long-term beneficiaries of the German MIS shows that individualised policies are ridden with prerequisites, which impede exiting from benefit entitlement by means of the institutional context. First, the empirical data reveals that subjective balances of one’s life are decisive for life plans, which can be in opposition to assumptions made by the individualisation paradigm. Second, only „expertise“ appropriations of the institutional context allow beneficiaries to use individualised policies as means to implementing plans, while the kind of individual life planning is decisive for how these means are applied. Overall, the limitations of individualised activation are illustrated by the fact that it requires the specific combination of “expertise” appropriations of the institutional context of the German MIS and a long-term life planning directed at improving individual employability in order to be meaningfully translated at the individual level.

13:00 Uhr, Campus Haarentor, A6-4-411

Inwiefern beeinflussen die institutionellen Bedingungen der Tarif- und Mindestlohnsysteme oder die Branchenbedingungen die Strategien der Tarifpartner im Hinblick auf die Anhebung der unteren Löhne? Der Vergleich der verschiedenen Systeme soll dazu dienen, die Wirkmächtigkeit des seit 2015 eingeführten Mindestlohns einzuschätzen

Disputation Sabine Israel

Sabine Israel hat ihre Dissertation mit dem Titel "Essays on the political economy of health and living conditions in Europe" am 14.06.2016 erfolgreich verteidigt. 

Erstgutachter war Prof. Dr. Martin Heidenreich,
Zweitgutachter Prof. Dr. Olaf von dem Knesebeck.

Executive Summary

It is the aim of this dissertation to untangle the mechanisms through which the European Union, in its form as a social, political and economic construct, influences social determinants of health for the most vulnerable population parts in Europe. While the EU had already a highly important influence on public health before the financial, economic and unemployment crises, specifically through its diverse roles as a legislator, platform of coordination and global actor, its position within multi-level policy-making has assumed even more power under its fiscal governance framework within recent years. According to the theory of the political economy of health such macro-economic changes will affect public health substantially. In the wake of the current economic and social crises, possible health effects can be deduced from the increased amount of households being exposed to adverse living conditions, deprivation and problems of arrears and debt. Moreover, the universal access to healthcare has been suffering in some countries of the European Union, with increased cases of unmet medical needs being recorded. Individuals with low socio-economic capital and in particular those being located in countries of the European periphery, which suffered most from the crisis, will thus be likely to develop psychical and psycho-social illnesses. By means of EU-SILC cross-sectional analyses this dissertation wants to discover which pathways pose individuals with low financial resources at risk of bad health, how health inequalities developed in the crisis and in how far national social protection and health policies are apt to mediate the influence of detrimental social determinants.

Disputation Katharina Krüth

Das Zusammenspiel von Nähe, Kooperation und Lernen innerhalb der pôles de compétitivité
erfolgreich verteidigt. Erstgutachter war Prof. Dr. Christoph Barmeyer, Zweitgutachter Prof. Dr. Martin Heidenreich.

Unter den Bedingungen des globalen Wettbewerbs sind Unternehmen heutzutage zunehmend auf externes Wissen für die Hervorbringung von Innovationen angewiesen. Sowohl für die Entwicklung als auch für die Vermarktung von neuen Produkten müssen Unternehmen mit externen Wissensanbietern wie z.B. Konkurrenten und Zulieferern, Anbietern von wissensintensiven Dienstleistungen, gemeinnützigen Organisationen und Stiftungen, Forschungseinrichtungen und Universitäten zusammenarbeiten. Dieses von unterschiedlichen Akteuren stammende, oft hochspezialisierte und heterogene Wissen muss in Innovationsprozesse kohärent integriert werden. Vor diesem Hintergrund können die Organisation und Koordination interorganisationaler Wissenstransfer-und Lernprozesse als entscheidend für die Wettbewerbsfähigkeit und das Wachstum von Unternehmen und Industrien gesehen werden.

Die Konferenz rückt aktuelle Themen kollaborativer Innovationsprozesse, der Organisation verteilter Wissensproduktion und daraus resultierende Herausforderungen für das Innovationsmanagement in den Fokus. Das Ziel der Konferenz liegt im Aufdecken der zugrundliegenden Faktoren, zu denen z.B. sektorale Rahmenbedingungen, unternehmensübergreifende
Innovationsstrategien, interorganisationale Strukturen, Governance von Wissenstransfer, sowie die Rekontextualisierung von Wissen zählen.

SSH perspectives on the new policy initiative for the Long-Term Unemployed

On September 17 the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Council Recommendation on the integration of the Long-Term Unemployed (LTU) into the labour market. Long-term unemployment is one of the key challenges of the jobs and growth agenda set out in the Commission’s Annual Growth Survey 2015 . President Juncker’s Political Guidelines identify the toll of unemployment as a key political challenge and the initiative is in line with the President's vision for a "Social Triple A".

Über soziale Ungleichheiten in den Mitgliedsstaaten der EU mit ihren gesellschaftspolitischen Auswirkungen u. a. auf die Flüchtlingskrise und auf den Zusammenhalt in der EU spricht Moderator Adolf Schröder mit Prof. Dr. Martin Heidenreich vom Jean Monnet Centre for Europeanisation and Transnational Regulations, das am Institut für Sozialwissenschaften an der Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg an gesiedelt ist.


From September 24th to 25th, 2015 the Research Unit Horizontal Europeanization hosts a midterm-conference on the topic of Dynamics of transnational Inequality in Europe. A double dualisation of European societies?