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Teaching profile

The teaching of the AB Transnationalization and Development mainly takes place in the subject module "Transnationalization, Migration and Development" (30-M25) of the BA Sociology and in the MA Sociology profile "Sociology of the Global World". An important role of our teaching in the Master's program is played by student research projects in the context of teaching research. As part of the doctoral program of the Graduate School BGHS, the AB regularly offers seminars for doctoral students, research classes and research colloquia.

For the BA program, the AB continuously offers seminars in the areas of 'Global South' and 'Migration' for module 30-M25. Teaching in these areas is organized and recommended to students in this order as follows: In the winter semester, basic courses on the sociology of development and development cooperation (Global South I) and on global mobility (Migration I) are offered. Courses offered in the summer semester provide students with in-depth study in the two areas. These include courses on specific aspects of development sociology and development cooperation (Global South II) and on refugee migration and integration (Migration II).

Furthermore, there are additional seminar offerings for the Bachelor's program in the field of sociology of migration and social anthropology.

In addition to the regular BA and MA events, we organize further colloquia and international summer schools for BA, MA or PhD students. Furthermore, we maintain a number of Erasmus agreements with European partner universities that pursue similar study foci or have a similarly broad range of courses as the Faculty of Sociology at Bielefeld University.


At least half of our courses are held in English. A list of our courses in the current semester can be found in the electronic annotated course catalog (eKVV) of the Faculty of Sociology.

Bachelor and Master


The seminars of the BA subject module Transnationalization and Development deal with the question of the processes by which transnational contexts of interaction and structure emerge and how these in turn have an impact on regional and local structures. Starting from social spaces in which boundary-drawing processes between groups take place along diverse heterogeneities such as class, gender, ethnicity, age, and religion, the focus is on the emergence and transformation of transnational social configurations such as families, networks, organizations, and the related issues of political power, cultural diversity, and social inequality. Subjects with a transnational scope are addressed, such as migration, social policy, development cooperation, climate change, and thus also complex problems of membership (citizenship).


The module Sociology of the Global World aims at conveying a sociological understanding of socialization and communalization processes beyond the so-called 'methodological nationalism'. In order to interrogate these processes in terms of their social, cultural, territorial and political demarcations, the module offers two approaches: In the perspective of transnationalization, the focus is on cross-connections of institutions and actors between, below and above nation-states. The module focuses on the consequences of the dissolution of boundaries in social life-worlds and social institutions and their significance for the emergence of new formations (e.g. diasporas, global regimes, transnational networks and social movements), but also for the transformation of existing structures and institutions (e.g. regionalism, statehood, citizenship and governance). From the perspective of world society theory, patterns of structure formation as well as conflict potentials resulting from processes of differentiation as well as from the incompatibilities of the various political, legal, economic and other structures of global functional contexts are inquired into. Furthermore, the historical background of the formation and implementation of specific forms of order - above all in the form of the modern nation state - is addressed.

Teaching research

Dissent over Refugees

SS 2017

Dozent: Prof. Thomas Faist

In this research training (Lehrforschung) we analyse how core European values and norms are contested, re-framed and re-affirmed by conflicting positions on refugee questions. Across Europe, discussions have taken center stage on the support citizens provided to newly arrived refugees and the fines citizens were given for doing so. Take, for example, Germany, Austria and Denmark in 2015. Also, public controversies surrounded alleged sexual abuse of European women by asylum seekers; for example, in Cologne, December 2015. Last but not least, a series of intensively debated policy measures taken to prevent forced migrants from applying for asylum in Europe have stood at the center of attention. Of prime importance have been the EU-Turkey deal and the relocation of refugees from and to Greece. One of the main dividing lines in public controversies has been between solidarity with refugees vs. protection of cultural homogeneity in the countries of reception. There have been views expressing civic solidarity as European citizens have welcomed refugees by engaging in volunteering action and participating in public demonstrations. By contrast, there have been law and order positions and also right-wing populist which have challenged incumbent political parties and governments. These processes have been accompanied by debates over the fear of social downward mobility and the fallout of neo-liberal policies on social inequalities and cultural identities. This situation highlights debates over core European and constitutional values, such as personal autonomy, gender equality, equality before the law and human dignity. The controversial discussions have equally concerned norms embedded in international law and national constitutions, such as the responsibility to protect refugees.

This research training addresses the dissent over values and norms, sparked by refugee issues. Various approaches can be applied, such as ethnographic field research, survey analysis, and specific methods to dissect controversial debates.

Cosmopolitanism from Below? Refugees, States and Civil Society in Comparative Perspective

WS 2016/17

Dozent: Prof. Thomas Faist

This course asks whether it is possible that refugees and natives interact in mutually beneficial ways. What are the mechanisms of mutual adjustment which ensures benefits on both sides? Are there cases in which the host communities or societies have proactively changed their ways of organizing important spheres of life in order to accommodate the in-migration of newcomers? Are cases such as Riace in Italy examples of social relations at eye level and cosmopolitanism from below (e.g. The students will develop and carry out their own research projects on crucial cases shedding light on these questions.

Social Boundaries in Higher Education

SS 2016

Dozentin: Prof. Dr. Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka

Universities all around the world are undergoing thorough transformations instigated or buttressed by global forces, and they face similar problems while competing for status, influence, and wealth. University students constitute the most central stakeholder ?group? in higher education whereas the student body has significantly changed in the last decades: in size, in demographic composition, in needs, aspirations, and in expectations. Student choices, visions, and their voiced critique have exerted significant pressures on individual institutions and on entire systems of higher education. Therefore, the current transformations of universities as well as those of student bodies are intertwined. While top-down approaches examining higher education from policy and from systemic perspectives have established themselves as a growing study field, inquiries observing these challenges from the vantage point of students have been rather scarce, so far. Therefore, this ?Lehrforschung-Seminar addresses the global challenges of higher education from student perspective. It concentrates at students, inquiring how global influences they face directly and via their educational institutions impinge upon their preferences, choices and possibilities.

In the last decade, social scientists from various disciplines have geared more and more attention at higher education. New studies inquire into the changing characteristics of universities ? e.g. in the quest to respond to a growing diversity of student bodies, to neo-liberal imperatives as well as to new social expectations. They also ask why pronounced inequalities remain in higher education, despite the egalitarian underpinnings and the universal promise. How do the new developments ? in particular, the higher admission rates, the national and global competition, and also the increasing economisation of the academic system - challenge higher education theory, policy and practice? What insights do we gain from these dynamics on the nature of change in contemporary societies? -This seminar uses a constructivist perspective on the making and unmaking of social boundaries seeking to understand changing modalities of inclusion and exclusion in higher education across the world. The purpose of the seminar is to address these issue in three ways:

  • In the first part, we look at the current state of higher education research across the disciplines, and in particular in the emerging field of anthropology of higher education.
  • The second part examines how social boundaries are constructed in higher education systems in different parts of the world. The focus lies here on research of
    • access of people with different social and spatial backgrounds in the higher education system as well as their positioning along the lines of class, gender and ethnicity, and their experiences of inclusion and exclusion.
    • in turn, we look at institutional responsiveness to growing diversity and heterogeneity, policies of affirmative action and politics of student organisations.
  • In the third and final part of the seminar, we use our empirical insights to critically assess wider agendas of international organisations such as the World Bank (2002), UNESCO (2009) or OECD (2012), which all propagate university education as a means to advance development, democracy and good lives. While they emphasise human capital (knowledge, technology, innovation) as an engine for economic growth, we also reflect how higher education can contribute to the building of more just societies. Against this backdrop, we also inquire into student politics aimed at achieving more justice and inclusion.

Diese Lehrforschung hat folgende Publikation hervorgebracht: Pfaff-Czarnecka - das soziale Leben der Universität

New trends in immigration to Germany: Characteristics, actors and policies

SoSe 2015, WiSe 2015/2016

Mustafa Aksakal und Kerstin Schmidt

Migration is a highly dynamic process and its patterns change over time. These developments depend on a variety of influencing factors. The Lehrforschung aims to address questions with regard to these changes and focusses on characteristics, actors and policies in the German context.
The first sequence of the Lehrforschung (summer term 2015) is divided into four thematic blocks. First, different theoretical approaches on migration will be addressed. Second, an overview about a concrete example of research on current immigration to Germany will be offered. Third, an introduction into qualitative research methods relevant in the context of studying migration will be provided. Fourth, work in small groups will enable students to develop the research design for their study.
The programme of this semester aims to prepare students for their fieldwork, which should be finalized before the start of the winter term in October. The second part of the seminar, to take place in the winter term 2015/2016, will focus on different forms of analysis of the interview material as well as on the oral and written presentation of the results.

Transnational Social Protection: Migrants' Informal Practices and Social Inequalities

SoSe 2013 & WS 2013/14

Dozentinnen: Dr. Basak Bilecen-Süoglu, Karolina Barglowski und Joanna Sienkiewicz

The course is divided into three parts: theoretical, methodological and practical. The theoretical debates on transnational migration, social protection and intersectionality will be studied first. Then, the application of qualitative methods will be discussed. The students will have the opportunity to learn about data collection methods and qualitative analysis techniques with the main focus on interpretative methods. During the practical part, students will be guided to conceptualize their own research agenda. Therefore, this course will teach to students to practice critical thinking and analysis in reading, listening, discussing and writing as well as carrying out their own research.

Social protection across borders is an important area of persons’ lives, especially for those who are highly prone to risks and vulnerabilities such as migrants. The term encompasses supportive resources embedded in interpersonal networks as well as formal regulatory schemes. The main aim of the course is to teach how to conduct research in sociology. All of the participants are expected to conduct an empirical investigation and write their research project.

The course is divided into three parts: theoretical, methodological and practical. The theoretical debates on transnational migration, social protection and intersectionality will be studied first. Then, the application of qualitative methods will be discussed. The students will have the opportunity to learn about data collection methods and qualitative analysis techniques with the main focus on interpretative methods. During the practical part, students will be guided to conceptualize their own research agenda. Therefore, this course will teach to students to practice critical thinking and analysis in reading, listening, discussing and writing as well as carrying out their own research.

Ethnicity at the university

Supervised by Prof. Dr. Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka, Hannah Burger and Patricia Pielage.

With the educational expansion, the number of students in Germany increased and students are increasingly characterized by different heterogeneity features - mainly ethnicity, race, religion, class affiliation, and gender. This research training takes as its starting point the fact that more and more people with a migration background are studying at German universities. It is based on the observation that students at German universities perceive the aforementioned heterogeneities and the associated social (ethnicizing) demarcations and process them in highly individual ways.

The focus of interest was on the questions of (first) how these demarcations are perceived, (second) how students deal with these demarcations, and (third) what effects these demarcations can have: Do the ethnicizing boundary demarcations act as 'enabling'? (in terms of role models, solidarity patterns) or also as 'constraining'? (for example, with regard to limited options for action and opportunities for participation). Does the heterogeneity characteristic 'ethnicity' have a generating effect as inequality at the university? And if so, through which mechanisms?

In the context of research training, the interplay between the organizational conditions of the university together with personal perceptions, relationships and options for action should be considered. In particular, the object of analysis is the network formation that students practice, processes of communalization, and the constellations of belonging among peers.

Information for the teaching research projects:

Alexander Lupczyk(Download).

Saskia Zimmermann
:Daniela Rodehutskors: Narratives of Foreign Students about their Social Contacts and Ethnicizing Boundary Drawing Processes - To what extent do international students in surveys about their social contacts in the country of their foreign university draw on ethnicizing categorization practices to (re)construct their social reality?

Sophia Stockmann: Equal opportunities for co-determination? Participation opportunities of students in the departmental student representative committee (Download)


Grenzbildungsprozesse aus transnationaler Perspektive

SoSe 2011 & WS 2011/12

Dozentin: He-Young Haubner

Grenzen werden auf unterschiedlichen Ebenen, von unterschiedlichen Akteuren und auf vielfältige Weise gezogen. Aus transnationaler Perspektive sind hierbei insbesondere Fragen nach der Konstruiertheit und Durchlässigkeit von Grenzen sowie den komplexen Dynamiken an der Schnittstelle von territorialen, sozialen und symbolischen Grenzen von Bedeutung.

Was sind Grenzen und wie und durch wen werden sie hergestellt? Welche Arten von Grenzen sind denkbar und wer oder was wird durch Grenzen markiert und dadurch aus- bzw. eingeschlossen? Wie wirken Grenzen zwischen Staaten auf soziale Beziehungen und wie werden nationalstaatliche Grenzen in sozialen Interaktionen, insbesondere auch durch die Forschungspraxis, (re-)produziert?

Im Rahmen der Lehrforschung sollen unterschiedliche Grenzbildungsprozesse empirisch aufgearbeitet werden. Ein Schwerpunkt sollte dabei auf der Konstruktion von MigrantInnen als primär nationalstaatlich markierter und homogener Gruppe liegen („Türken“ in „Deutschland“). Hierbei kann untersucht werden wie sich migrantische Gruppen in Relation zu anderen, migrantischen und nicht-migrantischen, Gruppen in den Einwanderungs- und Auswanderungsländern herausbilden oder wie sich interne Grenzbildungsprozesse entlang anderer sozialer Kategorien wie Geschlecht, Alter oder Bildungsstand zur national markierten Grenze nach außen verhalten.



Natalya Kashkovskaya: Bedeutung der Kategorie Russe im Kontext der Russendisko „Prime“ in Bielefeld. (Download)

Politics of Identity and Belonging in South Asia (Bangladesch/Nepal/Indien)


Dozentinnen Prof. Dr. Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka und Dr. Eva Gerharz

TeilnehmerInnen: Sven Busse, Johanna Gesing, Jonas Jungbluth, Arne Michels, Anja Petschel, Nicole Stockrahm, Daniela Urbansky.

Modes of Mobility (Ghana/Deutschland)


Dozentin: Dr. Nadine Sieveking

TeilnehmerInnen: Stefan Bröhl, Jasmina Bujupi, Nihad El Kayed, Éva Rozália Hölzle, Alia Jakoby, Sebastian Lemme, Bakyt Muratbayeva, Astrid Rütter, Johanna Sydow


Astrid Rütter
"We bring everybody together "
Protestmobilisierung in der Fischer-Community

Jasmina Bujupi
"Employment Propects of the Youth in Ghana in the Region of Kumasi"

Bakyt Muratbayeva
"Zongo and the community of work and life in Accra, Ghana"

Johanna Sydow
"Goldbergbau in Ghana"
Eine Analyse sozialer Schnittstellen im Kontext großtechnischen Goldbergbaus in Ghana

Diaspora and Development (Ghana)


Dozent: Prof. Thomas Faist, PhD


Annett Bochmann, Daniel Daroussis und Jonas Kubitscheck
"Returned Experts and Their Ties: Mechanisms of Social Support"


Diese Lehrforschung hat folgende Publikation hervorgebracht:
Unravelling Migrants as Transnational Agents of Development - Social Spaces in between Ghana and Germany. Münster: Lit Verlag (2011). Co-edited with Nadine Sieveking (IBSN: 978-3-643-90111-8 [Titel anhand dieser ISBN in Citavi-Projekt übernehmen] )


Summer Schools


Der Arbeitsbereich „Transnationalisierung und Entwicklung“ unterhält eine Reihe von Erasmus+ Abkommen. Ein Studium an diesen Universitäten wird besonders empfohlen für Studierenden mit den Schwerpunkten "Soziologie der globalen Welt“ im MA Soziologie und im Fachmodul "Transnationalisierung, Migration und Entwicklung“ im BA Soziologie. Studierende mit anderen Schwerpunkten können sich dennoch auch auf die hier zur Verfügung stehenden Plätze bewerben, sollten in ihrer Bewerbung aber ihr spezifisches Interesse deutlich machen.

Es bestehen Partnerschaften mit folgenden Universitäten:

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