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Sociology of Transnationalization and Social Anthropology

Welcome to the pages of the research unit 'Sociology of Transnationalization and Social Anthropology' at the Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld University. The research area deals with questions of mobility and membership - especially citizenship and 'belonging' - in cross-border social formations and transnationalizing social structures on different levels. The research area consists of two research groups, 'Sociology of Transnationalization' and 'Social Anthropology'. Of particular importance is the idea that diverse forms of spatial mobility - such as migration and circular mobility - are inextricably linked to diverse forms of social mobility. These processes, through changing politics and shifting meanings of equality and inequality, have implications for the understanding and practice of membership (citizenship; belonging).

Sociology of Transnationalization

Our work focuses on the mechanisms of genesis and reproduction of social practice and social structures of transnational relations. We are particularly concerned with the implications for membership using the example of (state) citizenship. There are three research fields: cross-border migration, development cooperation and the Transnational Social Question, i.e. mobilization with regard to social inequalities. A transnational perspective forms the background for all three areas: How do categories of persons, organizations, and states form transnational social formations-such as transnational social spaces, diasporas, transnational communities, transnational families, transnational social movements, issue-centered networks of organizations? What are the consequences of transnational social formations for lifeworlds, social inequalities, and membership? The work of the Center on Migration, Citizenship and Development (COMCAD) is also grounded in critiques of methodological nationalism and seeks to develop and apply appropriate methodologies that overcome this deficit. An important part of the teaching is doctoral student projects that address the research fields of Transnational Migration, Development Cooperation, Climate Change, Transnational Social Policy, and Transnational Social Security. Future research will continue to build on the area of transnationalization and more specifically address social protection in and around the European Union and its implications for membership.

Social Anthropology

Social Anthropology is concerned with the comparative study of cultures and societies across time and space. With an empirically grounded perspective, social anthropologists focus primarily on human relationships and on dynamics of social change. The methodological hallmark of the discipline is ethnography, through which social anthropologists immerse themselves in the everyday realities of people and communities over long periods of time to understand how larger processes and power relations play out in their lives. In a globally interconnected world, social anthropology is ideally positioned to understand human diversity and similarities, as well as the global forces that bring people together or separate them from one another. Students of social anthropology will acquire theoretical concepts and methodological tools with which to critically examine and analyze everyday social, economic, and political processes. Social anthropology is closely related to sociology. While there used to be clear distinctions between the two disciplines, their mutual application of concepts, methods, and research interests suggests an increasingly blurred boundary in recent decades. Indeed, social anthropology and sociology complement each other very well when it comes to expanding knowledge about human societies and social behavior.


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