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  • Niklas Luhmann Guest Professorship

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Niklas Luhmann is considered one of the greatest sociologists of the 20th century worldwide. He taught at Bielefeld University from 1968 (as the first of its professors) until his retirement. As an outstanding sociological theorist, Luhmann played a decisive role in the perception of the university in the international scientific and non-scientific public.

In 2005, the Faculty of Sociology and the Rectorate of Bielefeld University established a Niklas Luhmann Visiting Professorship for the first time. Its intention is to attract internationally renowned social theorists in order to offer students and a wider academic and non-academic public the opportunity to become directly acquainted with authoritative and innovative theories.

Recent Niklas Luhmann Guest Professor

2024: Prof Dr Gil Eyal

Photo by Gil Eyal
Gil Eyal

Professor Gil Eyal from Columbia University in New York will be the next Niklas Luhmann Visiting Professor in the summer semester 2024 (May-June). Gil Eyal is Professor of Sociology and Director of The Trust Collaboratory at Columbia University. His most recent books include The Crisis of Expertise (Polity, 2019) and (with Tom Medvetz, editor) The Oxford Handbook of Expertise and Democratic Politics (OUP 2023). He is currently leading several research projects looking at the forms of trust of long-Covid patients and of people interacting with artificial intelligence.

Gil Eyal will lead a doctoral seminar on "Trust an Mistrust in Science, Experts and Expert Systems". (here link to the electronic course catalogue (eKVV-course catalog)) On 26 June, Gil Eyal will give his university lecture on "Mistrust in Numbers: The Crisis of Expertise and the Nature of Trust".

Further links
Research page of the Faculty of Sociology at Bielefeld University
Website of Prof Gil Eyal
Google Scholar of Prof Gil Eyal

Previous Niklas Luhmann Guest Professors

David Stark

David Stark will be the next Niklas Luhmann Visiting Professor in December 2023 and January 2024. As part of this visiting professorship, David Stark will hold a PhD seminar on "Algorithmic Management and New Class Conflicts". On 24.01.2024, David Stark will give his university lecture "This is Not a Test! Preparedness, Innovation, and Uncertainty" (probably in X-E0-001 from 18:00 c.t.).

David Stark is the Arthur Lehman Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, where he directs the Center on Organizational Innovation. He is a major figure in the field of economic sociology and uses a wide range of research methods - ethnographic, network analytic and experimental - to study processes of valuation and innovation. He has studied factory workers in socialist Hungary, employees in a Silicon Alley startup, derivatives traders on Wall Street, electronic music artists in Berlin, bankers in Budapest, farmers in Nebraska, video game producers and megachurches that look like shopping malls.

In his book The Sense of Dissonance: Accounts of Worth in Economic Life (Princeton University Press, 2011), Stark shows how organisations and their members search for what is valuable. Dissonance - disagreement about the principles of value - can lead to discovery. Postsocialist Pathways (with Laszlo Bruszt, Cambridge U Press, 1998) compares the different ways in which the societies of East Central Europe dealt with the challenge of the simultaneous transformation of property and civil rights. In an oft-cited article, "Recombinant Property in East European Capitalism" (American Journal of Sociology 1996), he argues that capitalism in Eastern Europe was built not on the ruins of communism, but with the ruins of communism.

Stark recently completed a major research project on "Diversity and Performance: Networks of Cognition in Markets and Teams", which is supported by a five-year Advanced Career Award from the European Research Council. Recent publications include Racial Attention Deficit (Science Advances 2021), Put to the Test: For a New Sociology of Testing (British Journal of Sociology 2020) and The Performance Complex: Competition and Competitions in Social Life (Oxford University Press 2020). His current news research project: Algorithmic Management and New Class Conflicts.

In 2002 he was named a Guggenheim Fellow and in 2013 he received an honorary doctorate from the École normale supérieure de Cachan. Stark has been a visiting scholar at numerous institutes, including: Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin; Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Palo Alto; Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne; Russell Sage Foundation; Collegium Budapest; and the Institute for Advanced Study in Hangzhou, China.

Stark's edited volume, Practicing Sociology: Tacit Knowledge for the Sociological Craft is in press with Columbia University Press. Many of his articles, books, presentations, "silent lectures" and other materials are available at

Related links
Web presence Research page of the Faculty of Sociology at Bielefeld University
Web presence of Prof. David Stark
Google Scholar of Prof. David Stark

Karin Knorr Cetina

Karin Knorr Cetina is the O. Borchert Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Chicago. She is also Co-PI of a project on Agentic Media in the SFB Media of Cooperation at the University of Siegen, Germany.  She published extensively in the area of science and technology studies, the sociology of finance, and social theory. Her writings include the book “Epistemic Cultures: How the Sciences Make Knowledge” (Harvard UP 2003; Winner of the Ludwick Fleck Price and Robert K. Merton Professional Award), “Takeover by Science. The Long Contemporary History of Financial” Markets (2020), “Global Microstructures: The Virtual Societies of Financial Markets” (with Urs Bruegger, winner of Theory Prize of the ASA section on Social Theory, 2007) and the just finished book “Synthetic Markets: The Currency Market as a Media-Institution” (to appear 2023). She is currently conducting research on artificially intelligent science, as well as on semi-autonomy as a moral, cultural and social form.

Most recent awards and honors: Niklas Luhmann Distinguished Visiting Chair in Social Theory, University of Bielefeld, 2022; Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2021, George Sarton Medal and Chair, University of Ghent, 2019-20, Gutenberg Research Award, 2017, Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Scientific Research, German Sociological Association, 2016.

Part of the guest stay is the doctoral seminar Social Theory for the Digital Age.

Website Google Scholar

Rudolf Stichweh

Rudolf Stichweh is the 2020/21 Niklas Luhmann Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Sociology at Bielefeld University. Due to the effects of the Corona pandemic, Rudolf Stichweh's guest stay planned for the Summer semester 2020 has been postponed to autumn (mid-October to mid-December) of this year. Part of the guest stay is the doctoral seminar"Inequality and Asymmetrical Dependency: A Global Perspective". In addition, Rudolf Stichweh gave a university lecture on"Functional Differentiation and World Society" on 10 November 2021.

Rudolf Stichweh is Senior Professor of Sociology at the 'Forum Internationale Wissenschaft' and at the 'Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies' (Cluster(s) of Excellence) at the University of Bonn. He is also director of the department 'Comparative Research on Democracies' at the 'Forum Internationale Wissenschaft'.

Curriculum Vitae: From 1985 to 1994 he worked for the Max Planck Society (MPI for the Study of Societies in Cologne and MPI for European Legal History in Frankfurt/M.). From 1994 to 2020 he was Professor of Sociology in Bielefeld, Lucerne and Bonn. He was rector of the University of Lucerne (2006-10) and remains a permanent visiting professor at the University of Lucerne. He is also a member of the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Düsseldorf, and the National Academy Leopoldina, Halle. Visiting professorships at the University of Vienna; École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris; Radboud University, Nijmegen; Princeton University, Department of German; University of Chicago, Department of Sociology; George Sarton Medal for History of Science, Ghent University (2021/2), among others. Stichweh is also Visiting Scholar at the MPI for the History of Science, Berlin, Research Group 'China in the Global System of Science'.

Main research areas: Functional Differentiation and World Society; Structure and History of the Modern Science System; Authoritarian and Democratic Political Systems in the 21st Century; Inequality and Asymmetric Dependence; University as World Organisation.

Books: On the Emergence of the Modern System of Scientific Disciplines: Physics in Germany 1740-1890, 1984; The Early Modern State and the European University: On the Interaction of Politics and the Educational System in the Process of Their Differentiation (16th-18th Centuries).), 1991; Études sur la genèse du système scientifique moderne, 1991; The World Society, 2000; The Stranger, 2010; Science, University, Professions, I 2013, II 2022. Inclusion and Exclusion, 2016; Democratic and Authoritarian Political Systems in 21st Century World Society, Vol. 1, Transcript, 2021; Functional Differentiation of Society, 2022.

Eva Illouz

This year's Niklas-Luhmann-Visiting Professor is Eva Illouz from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Eva Illouz holds a professorship at the the Department of Sociology and Anthropology since 2006. Her research interests include the field of Cultural Studies, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Sociology and Feminist Theory. She is an expert and well known for her research in sociology of culture, sociology of emotions, sociology of capitalism, and the effects of capitalism on emotional life. Her work is applied in many research disciplines, including literature, anthropology, and sociology.

During her stay at the Faculty of Sociology in Bielefeld from 19 June to July and for a second stay for two weeks in October Eva Illouz will hold a public lecture to the topic »What is Capitalist Subjectivity?« (19 June, 6 p.m., main building, H1). Moreover she will give a seminar entitled »The Paradoxes of Capitalism and Emotions« for doctoral researchers at the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS).

Further information on this year's Niklas Luhmann Visiting Professor Eva Ellouz, a detailed CV and a list of her recent publications will be available soon. Please also check Eva Illouz's personal website.

Chris Thornhill

Chris Thornhill is Professor in Law at the University of Manchester, UK. He grew up in the north of England in the 1970s and 1980s, and he received his PhD from Cambridge University. He has previously held professorial positions in different disciplines at Kings College London and Glasgow University and visiting Professorships in Chile and Brazil. His work is positioned in the interstices between Law, Sociology, Politics and History.

In recent years, he has conducted extensive research on the sociology of constitutional law and the sociology of democracy. He has published a number of monographs and articles on these topics, which have been translated into many languages, and which have helped to establish the sociology of constitutions as an important and rapidly expanding field of legal research. This line of his research has both explanatory and normative dimensions. He has utilized historical-sociological methods to examine reasons for the consolidation of constitutional norms and to explain the social origins of constitutional texts in different national societies. However, he has developed a more normative interest in the legal preconditions of democracy, and in models of constitutional norm formation likely to secure enduringly legitimate governmental systems. This interest focuses in particular on societies, in different parts of the globe, that are marked by recent histories of authoritarianism, that reflect traditionally weak patterns of democratic institutionalization, whose structure is residually defined by experiences of colonization, or that have suffered democratic crisis caused by entrenched hostilities between rival population groups. He has expanded this part of his research to develop elements of a sociology of international law, especially international human rights law, to examine the inner-societal impact of international legal norms on democratic polity building.

A central aspect of his current research is a concern with the formation of the global legal system, in the context of which he examines processes of democratization. In this respect, his work is driven by the methodological endeavour to link the sociology of law with global sociology, and to articulate the importance of legal sociology for the comprehension of global society more broadly.

His work is deeply shaped by long engagement with core texts of German sociology, especially those of Marx, Weber, Habermas and Luhmann; core texts of German legal theory, especially those of Kant, Hegel, Kelsen, Schmitt, Neumann and Böckenförde; and core texts of German historiography, especially those of Savigny, Droysen, Brunner, Koselleck, Kocka and Stolleis. He is proud to have collaborated extensively with leading scholars in Germany, notably Hauke Brunkhorst and Gunther Teubner.

As the Niklas Luhmann Visiting Professor of Sociology, Christopher Thronhill will give a public lecture on The Sociology of Law and Global Sociology on Juni 13th.

Informations about the Seminar: 

300250 The emergence of global legal systems (BGHS Theory Class) (S) (SoSe 2018)

Richard Münch

Richard Münch wird vom 28. November 2016 bis 5. Februar 2017 die Niklas-Luhmann-Gastprofessur an der Fakultät für Soziologie und an der BGHS wahrnehmen. Er ist Professor Emeritus für Soziologie an der Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg und Seniorprofessor für Gesellschaftstheorie und komparative Makrosoziologie an der Zeppelin Universität Friedrichshafen.

Richard Münch, Jahrgang 1945, studierte von 1965 bis 1970 Soziologie, Philosophie und Psychologie an der Universität Heidelberg und erwarb dort 1969 den Grad des Magister Artium und 1971 den Grad des Dr. phil. Die Habilitation für das Fachgebiet Soziologie erfolgte 1972 an der Universität Augsburg, wo er von 1970 bis 1974 am Lehrstuhl für Soziologie und Kommunikationswissenschaft als wissenschaftlicher Assistent beschäftigt war. Von 1974 bis 1976 lehrte er als Professor für Soziologie an der Universität zu Köln, von 1976 bis 1995 an der Universität Düsseldorf, von 1995 bis 2013 an der Universität Bamberg, wo er 2013 zum Emeritus of Excellence ernannt wurde. Seit 2015 ist er Seniorprofessor für Gesellschaftstheorie und komparative Makrosoziologie an der Zeppelin Universität Friedrichshafen. Er war mehrfach als Gastprofessor an der University of California in Los Angeles tätig und gehörte zur Herausgeberschaft des American Journal of Sociology, der Annual Review of Social Theory, von Sociological Theory, Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Soziologische Revue. Von 2002 bis 2012 war er Sprecher des von der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft geförderten interdisziplinären Graduiertenkollegs "Märkte und Sozialräume in Europa" an der Universität Bamberg. Er war Mitglied und zuletzt Vorsitzender des Fachbeirats am Max Planck Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung in Köln und ist Mitglied der Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

Nachdem sich Richard Münch in seiner Dissertation und in seiner Habilitationsschrift mit den Grundlagen der Handlungstheorie und der Gesellschaftstheorie beschäftigt hatte (Mentales System und Verhalten, Mohr Siebeck, 1972; Gesellschaftstheorie und Ideologiekritik, Hofmann und Campe, 1973), wandte er sich den klassischen und modernen Beiträgen zur Gesellschaftstheorie zu (u.a. Theorie des Handelns, Suhrkamp,1982; Theory of Action, Routledge, 1987). Die weitere Theoriearbeit zielte auf die breite Erfassung der unterschiedlichen Theorieströmungen und ihres Beitrags zur Erklärung des menschlichen Handelns, der Ordnung und des Wandels der Gesellschaft (Sociological Theory, 3 Bände, Nelson Hall, 1994; Soziologische Theorie, 3 Bände, Campus, 2002-2004). Aufbauend auf den Arbeiten zur Gesellschaftstheorie hat Richard Münch breit angelegte historisch-vergleichende Studien zur Entwicklung der modernen Gesellschaft durchgeführt (Die Struktur der Moderne, Suhrkamp,1984; Die Kultur der Moderne, 2 Bände, Suhrkamp, 1986; The Ethics of Modernity, Rowman & Littlefield, 2001). Seit Anfang der 1990er Jahre widmet er sich der Untersuchung des gesellschaftlichen Strukturwandels in der Gegenwart. Dabei geht es einerseits um die Ursachen, Erscheinungsformen und Konsequenzen der globalen Ausdehnung, Verdichtung und Beschleunigung der Kommunikation (u.a. Dialektik der Kommunikationsgesellschaft, Suhrkamp, 1991; Dynamik der Kommunikationsgesellschaft, Suhrkamp, 1995), andererseits um den Strukturwandel von Identtät, Solidarität und sozialer Integration in der Folge der Europäisierung und Globalisierung der Lebensverhältnisse (u.a. Das Projekt Europa, Suhrkamp, 1993; Globale Dynamik, lokale Lebenswelten, Suhrkamp, 1998; Offene Räume, Suhrkamp, 2001; Nation and Citizenship in the Global Age, Palgrave Macmillan, 2001; Die Konstruktion der europäischen Gesellschaft, Campus, 2008; Das Regime des liberalen Kapitalismus, Campus, 2009; Das Regime des Pluralismus, Campus, 2010; Das Regime des Freihandels, Campus, 2011; European Governmentality, Routledge, 2010; Inclusion and Exclusion in the Liberal Competition State, Routledge, 2012; The Global Division of Labour, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). In seiner aktuellen Forschungsarbeit untersucht Richard Münch den Wandel von Bildung und Wissenschaft im Kontext des verschärften internationalen Wettbewerbs (u.a. Die akademische Elite, Suhrkamp, 2007; Globale Eliten, lokale Autoritäten, Suhrkamp, 2009; Akademischer Kapitalismus, Suhrkamp, 2011; Academic Capitalism, Routledge, 2014).

Im Rahmen der Niklas-Luhmann-Gastprofessur wird Richard Münch am 14.12.2016 einen universitätsöffentlichen Vortrag über den internationalen Bildungswettbewerb zwischen globaler Standardisierung und nationalen Traditionen halten. Außerdem wird er ein wöchentlich stattfindendes Graduiertenseminar zum Thema "Die Universität im akademischen Kapitalismus" sowie ein Kolloquium zu laufenden Dissertationsprojekten durchführen.

Informationenen zu den Seminaren: 

300199 Die Universität: Von der akademischen Gemeinschaft zum strategisch operierenden Unternehmen - The University: From the Academic Community to the Strategically Operating Enterprise (S) (WiSe 2016/2017)   

300200 Kolloquium für Doktorandinnen und Doktoranden/Colloquium for Ph.D. students (S) (WiSe 2016/2017)

Elena Esposito

This year Niklas-Luhmann-Visiting Professor, coming to Bielefeld from December 2015 until January 2016 is Prof. Elena Esposito.

Elena Esposito is professor of sociology at the University of Modena-Reggio Emilia. She received her PhD and her Habilitation in Sociology from Bielefeld University under the supervision of Niklas Luhmann. She has held several fellowships and guest professorships, including institutions such as Columbia University, Meiji University, the University of Vienna, IKKM Weimar, ISA Warwick, The New School in New York, and the Humboldt Stiftung.

Esposito works with the theory of social systems on a broad range of issues especially in relation to the social management of time. Her publications deal with topics such as social memory and forgetting, fashion as the semantic institutionalization of transience, the use of the future in financial markets, the genesis and transformation of fiction, and the social management of uncertainty. In all these cases, the tools of systems theory, with their focus on contingency and improbability, are utilized to foster dialogue with other social theories as well as with ongoing public debates. Her current research projects address the possibilities and forms of forgetting on the web, the problem of communication with algorithms, and the proliferation of rankings and ratings for the management of information.

As the Niklas Luhmann Visiting Professor of Sociology, Elena Esposito will give a public lecture on Artificial Communication: The production of contingency by algorithms on December 9th. While on the faculty of the Department of Sociology at Bielefeld University she will be teaching a weekly graduate seminar on Developing Systems Theory, focusing on the challenges and the usefulness of Luhmann’s approach for current sociological research. She will also coordinate a Master Class for the discussion of ongoing PhD dissertations.

For further informations about Elena Esposito see the CV.

Alejandro Portes

This year Niklas-Luhmann-Visiting Professor, coming to Bielefeld from October 4th to December 6th, is Prof. Alejandro Portes.

Alejandro Portes is Howard Harrison and Gabrielle Snyder Beck Professor of Sociology at Princeton University and Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Miami. He is the Founding Director of the Center for Migration and Development at Princeton. He has formerly taught at Johns Hopkins University, where he held the John Dewey Chair in Arts and Sciences; Duke University, and the University of Texas-Austin. In 1997, he was elected president of the American Sociological Association and served in that capacity in 1998-99. Born in Havana, Cuba, he came to the United States in 1960. He was educated at the University of Havana, Catholic University of Argentina, and Creighton University. He received his M. A. and Ph. D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Portes is the author of 220 articles and chapters on national development, international migration, Latin American and Caribbean urbanization, and economic sociology. He has published 36 books and special issues. His books include City on the Edge – the Transformation of Miami (California 1993), co-authored with Alex Stepick and winner of the Robert Park Award for best book in urban sociology and the Anthony Leeds Award for best book in urban anthropology in 1995; and Immigrant America: A Portrait, 3rd edition, (California 2006), designated as a Centennial Publication by the University of California Press in 1996.

His current research is on the adaptation process of the immigrant second generation in comparative perspective, the role of institutions on national development, and immigration and the American health system. In 2001, he published, with Rubén G. Rumbaut, Legacies: The Story of the Immigrant Second Generation and Ethnicities: Children of Immigrants in America (California 2001). Legacies is the winner of the 2002 Distinguished Scholarship Award from the American Sociological Association and of the 2002 W. I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki Award for best book from the International Migration Section of ASA. Ten volumes of his collected essays have been published in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. His most recent articles have appeared in the American Sociological Review, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, International Migration Review, and Population and Development Review.

Portes is a former fellow of the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences and of the Russell Sage Foundation. He has received honorary doctorates from the New School for Social Research, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Genoa (Italy). He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2008, he received the annual Award for Scientific Reviewing (Social and Politcal Sciences) from the National Academy of Sciences. In 2009, he was elected to the American Philosophical Society. In 2010, he received the W.E.B. DuBois Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award from the American Sociological Association and, in 2012, he was inducted as the James Coleman Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences.

During his visit at the Faculty of Sociology of the University of Bielefeld Alejandro Portes is going to teach a weekly graduate seminar at the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology “The Economic Sociology of Immigration”.

Alejandro Portes will give a public Lecture at the University on November 19th:
“Immigration, Transnationalism and Development: the State of the Question"

Yasemin Soysal

Before taking her position at Essex University, Yasemin Soysal studied (PhD in Sociology, Stanford University) and worked (Assistant and then John Loeb Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Harvard University) in the US. She has written extensively on the historical development and contemporary reconfigurations of the nation-state and citizenship in Europe. Currently she is working on two projects: a comparative and longitudinal study of the changing concepts of “good citizen” and “good society” in Europe and East Asia (with S.Y. Wong, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, UK, and the Hong Kong Research Grant Council), and a survey study of “life course and self projections” of immigrant and non-immigrant origin youth in Spain (with A. Gonzales and H. Cebolla, funded by Juan March Institute and the Spanish Ministry of Education). Soysal has held several fellowships and guest professorships, including Wissenschaftskolleg, National Endowment of Humanities, National Academy of Education, German Marshall Fund, Max Planck Institute, European University Institute, Juan March Institute, New York University, Hitotsubashi University, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She is past president of the European Sociological Association.

Selected Publications:

  • Limits of Citizenship: Migrants and Postnational Membership in Europe. University of Chicago Press, 1994. [Chinese translation, Chu Liu Book Company, 2013].
  • The Nation, Europe, and the World: Curricula and Textbooks in Transition, with H. Schissler (ed). Berghahn Books, 2006.
  • Citizenship, Immigration, and the European Social Project: Rights and Obligations of Individuality, The British Journal of Sociology 63 (1) 2012.
  • Individuality, Sociological Institutionalism, and Continuing Inequalities: A Response to Commentators, The British Journal of Sociology 63 (1) 2012.
  • Reply to Will Kymlicka, “Multicultural Citizenship within Multination States.” Ethnicities 11(3) 2011.
  • Unpacking Cosmopolitanism: An Insider-Outsider Reading. The British Journal of Sociology, 60th Anniversary Special Issue 2010.
  • Re-conceptualizing the Republic: Diversity and Education in France, 1945-2008, with S. Szakacs. Journal of Interdisciplinary History 41(1) 2010.
  • Diversity from Within and Without: Comparative Notes from France and Japan, with S.Y. Wong. Multicultural Education Review 2(1) 2010.
  • Locating Europe. European Societies 4(3) 2002.
  • Citizenship and Identity: Living in Diasporas in Postwar Europe? Ethnic and Racial Studies 23 (1) 2000.
  • The Changing Logic of Political Citizenship: Cross National Acquisition of Women Suffrage Rights, 1890-1990, with F. O. Ramirez and S. Shanahan. American Sociological Review, 62 (5) 1997.
  • Citizenship and Claims-Making: Organized Islam in European Public Spheres. Theory and Society 26 (4) 1997.
  • World Expansion of Mass Education, 1870 1980, with J. W. Meyer and F. O. Ramirez. Sociology of Education 65 (2) 1992.
  • Constructing the First Mass Education Systems: Nineteenth Century Europe, with D. Strang. Sociology of Education 62 (4) 1989.


Nation-State and Citizenship: Inclusions and Exclusions
starting on May 13th. (Further informations about the seminar you can find here).

For additional readings see bibliography on Citizenship.

Saskia Sassen

This years Niklas-Luhmann-Visiting Professor, coming to Bielefeld from May 11th to July 9th, is Prof. Saskia Sassen, Columbia University, New York. Saskia Sassen is the Lynd Professor of Sociology and Co-Chair, The Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University ( Her recent book is Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages (Princeton University Press 2008) published in German by Suhrkamp (2008) as Das Paradox des Nationalen. Other recent books are A Sociology of Globalization (W.W.Norton 2007), the 3rd. fully updated Cities in a World Economy (Sage 2006), the edited Deciphering the Global (Routledge 2007), and the co-edited Digital Formations: New Architectures for Global Order (Princeton University Press 2005). For UNESCO she organized a five-year project on sustainable human settlement with a network of researchers and activists in over 30 countries; it is published as one of the volumes of the Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (Oxford, UK: EOLSS Publishers) []. The Global City came out in a new fully updated edition in 2001. Her books are translated into twenty-one languages. She serves on several editorial boards and is an advisor to several international bodies. She is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Cities, and was Chair of the Information Technology and International Cooperation Committee of the Social Science Research Council (USA). She has written for The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Monde Diplomatique, the International Herald Tribune, Newsweek International, Vanguardia, Clarin, the Financial Times, among others. She contributes regularly to and During her time at the Faculty of Sociology of the University of Bielefeld Saskia Sassen will be teaching a weekly graduate seminar at the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology “Territory, Authority, Rights: Emerging global assemblages” and she will give two public Lectures at the University :

  1. Territory, Authority, Rights: Emerging Global Assemblages (May 11)
  2. Ungoverned Territories and Informal Jurisdictions (planned for June 22)

For further Information about the Seminar (content, registration) consult the ekvv of Bielefeld University (

Ulrich Oevermann

Ulrich Oevermann wird vom 1.12.2009 bis zum 5.2.2010 die von der Fakultät für Soziologie und der BGHS getragenen Niklas Luhmann Gastprofessur wahrnehmen und während dieser Zeit ein umfangreiches Lehrprogramm durchführen. Informationen zu den Lehrveranstaltungen, die v.a. im Rahmen des Lehrprogramms der Graduiertenschule abgeboten werden, finden Sie im eKVV der Universität Bielefeld Für Anfang des Jahres 2010 wird Herr Oevermann eine Universitätsöffentliche Vorlesung halten. Während seines Aufenthaltes beuieht Herr Oevermann Raum K4-111 auf dem BGHS-Flur. Herr Oevermann ist Emeritus der Universität Frankfurt/Main und gehört seit den späten sechziger Jahren zu den produktivsten Soziologen dieses Landes. Die Bildungs- und Sozialisationsforschung jener Jahre eignet er sich als wissenschaftlicher Assistent von Jürgen Habermas an. Seine soziologische Karriere beginnt er mit einer großangelegten Untersuchung über den Zusammenhang von Sprache und sozialer Herkunft. Dabei kommt er über die Soziolinguistik von Bernstein zur Linguistik und ihrem Regelbegriff und von dort aus zu einer ganz eigenen Version von Strukturalismus, vielleicht der einzigen neben Bourdieu, die man gleichfalls in vollem Umfang der Soziologie zurechnen kann. Der Grundgedanke ist einfach genug: Für Oevermann ermöglicht es der Überschuss der sprachlich sinnvollen gegenüber den gesellschaftlich sinnvollen Sätzen die Selektivität der Gesellschaft zu erfahren – und zu objektivieren, und der Überschuss der gesellschaftlich sinnvollen Sätze gegenüber dem, was man in diesem oder jenem Sozialsystem sagen kann, ermöglicht es, dessen eigene Selektivität zu erfahren – und zu objektivieren. Daran schließt eine eigene Methodenlehre für qualitative Sozialforschung an, die sogenannte objektive Hermeneutik, die als Sequenzanalyse darauf angelegt ist, durch Rekonstruktion von sprachlich bzw. gesellschaftlich eröffneten Möglichkeitsräumen die ereignishafte Selektivität des sprachlichen Einzelaktes und durch Rekonstruktion des Zusammenhanges mehrerer Einzelakte die strukturelle Selektivität des jeweils untersuchten Sozialsystems, oder wie Oevermann sagen würde: der Fallstruktur der jeweils untersuchten Lebenspraxis aufzuklären. Für Oevermann schließt das grundbegriffliche Interesse an Strukturen die Thematisierung weder des Neuen noch des Individuellen noch des Originellen aus. In seinen neueren Publikationen ist es vor allem die Unterscheidung von strukturierter Routine und sie überfordernder Krise, von der Oevermann sich den soziologischen Aufschluss über diese Dreiheit von Themen erhofft. In gut dreißig Jahren hat er auf diesen Grundlagen sein soziologisches Lebenswerk aufgebaut.

Alois Hahn

Der diesjährige Inhaber der Niklas-Luhmann-Gastprofessur ist der Trierer Soziologe Alois Hahn. 1967 wurde er in Frankfurt am Main mit einer Arbeit über die soziale Bedingtheit von Einstellungen zu Tod und Sterben promoviert und habilitierte sich 1973 in Tübingen mit einer Arbeit über "Systeme des Bedeutungswissens". Seit 1974 ist er ordentlicher Professor für Allgemeine Soziologie an der Universität Trier und forscht und lehrt dort über ein breites Themenfeld. Die Schwerpunkte seiner Arbeit liegen in der Religions- und Kultursoziologie, der Thanatosoziologie und in der letzten Zeit auf Forschungen zu Inklusion und Exklusion.
Alois Hahn war Inhaber zahlreicher Gastprofessuren, unter anderem 1987/88 an der Ecole des Hautes Etudes in Paris und 2007 an der Université de Strasbourg. Im akamdemischen Jahr 2005/06 war er Fellow am Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.
Das Arbeitsprogramm im Rahmen der Luhmann Gedächtnis Professur dreht sich um Überlegungen zur Vorgeschichte des sozialwissenschaftlichen Denkens.

Nils Brunsson

Prof. Nils Brunsson holds the City of Stockholm Chair in Management at the Stockholm School of Economics. He has published more than 20 books and numerous articles on organizations. His research includes studies of decision-making, administrative reforms and standardization. He is now working with issues of rule-setting and regulation. His latest book in English is Mechanisms of Hope. Maintaining the dream of rationality in organizations. There are several reviews of Nils Brunsson’s contributions to organization theory (see CV and publications).
During his time at the Faculty of Sociology of the University of Bielefeld he will be teaching a weekly graduate seminar about “Institutional Aspects on Organizations” every Tuesday from 10- 13h (Room T4-110) (For registration contact Additional to that seminar a public lecture is going to take place on 9. Mai. Nils Brunsson will also make a one-day workshop about his latest book Mechanism of Hope.

John W. Meyer

This years Niklas-Luhmann-Visiting Professor, coming to Bielefeld from April 18 to June 20, is Prof. John W. Meyer, Department of Sociology (and the International Studies Institute) at Stanford University.

John Meyer received his PhD from Columbia University, New York, here he taught for several years afterwards before becoming Professor of Sociology at the Stanford University, California, where he is now an Emeritus Professor.

Throughout the years his research has focused on the spread of modern institutions around the world, and their impact on national states and societies. He is particularly interested in the spread and impact of scientific activity, and in the expansion and standardization of educational models. He has made many contributions to organizational theory (e.g., Organizational Environments, with W. R. Scott, Sage 1983), and to the sociology of education, developing lines of thought now called neoinstitutional theory.

Since the late 1970s, he has worked on issues related to the impact of global society on national states and societies (e.g., Institutional Structure, co-authored with others, Sage 1987). Currently, he is completing a collaborative study of worldwide science and its impact on national societies (Drori, et al., Science in the Modern World Polity, Stanford, 2003), and is working on a study of the rise and impact of the worldwide human rights regime.

During his time at the Faculty of Sociology of the University of Bielefeld he will be teaching a weekly graduate seminar focussing the impact of modern macro-level cultural environments on societies, organizations, and individuals seen as actors. Additional to that seminar two public lectures are going to take place on 26. April and 24. Mai. Following are information on the seminar and the lectures.

Graduate Seminar April – June: Seminar on Sociological Institutional Theory

  • The impact of modern macro-level cultural environments on societies, organizations, and individuals seen as actors.
  • Special emphasis on the more extreme institutionalist tradition stressing environmental
  • impacts in the identity and constitution of actors, over and above influences on their activities and structures.
  • Theory and research on general institutional effects, and empirical studies of world societal
  • effects on national societies, organizations and individuals.

Public Lecture I, 26. April: Institutional Theories in Sociology

  • The contemporary rise of "new institutionalisms" in a world understood to be made up of autonomous actors.
  • Institutions as macro-sociological, as cultural, or as both (i.e., modern sociological institutionalism).
  • Core propositions, with illustrative applications to individuals, organizations, and national societies.
  • Issues, and contrasts with other lines of theorizing.

Public Lecture II, 24. May: Building a World Society

  • The impact of world models on national societies and states.
  • Emphases, in these models, on cooperative participation in global society.
  • Sources of models in pressures for social control: emphases on science, rationality, and human individual rights.
  • Location of the culture involved in expansive and relatively standardized educational arrangements, worldwide.
HArrison White

Die meisten Wissenschaftler forschen heute zu sehr speziellen, eng abgegrenzten Fragestellungen. Auch in der Soziologie fragen nur sehr wenige nach umfassenden und allgemeinen Zusammenhängen. Einer dieser wenigen ist Prof. Harrison C. White von der renommierten Columbia University in New York, der sich derzeit für zwei Monate als erster Niklas-Luhmann-Gastprofessor an der Fakultät für Soziologie der Universität Bielefeld aufhält. Harrison C. White (*1930) gilt allgemein als einer der Gründer und bedeutenden Vertreter der Netzwerktheorie. Er ist als Mathematiker und Soziologe ausgebildet. In vielen seiner Arbeiten hat er sich mit der Modellierung, mit der mathematischen Rekonstruktion von sozialen Netzwerken beschäftigt. Wie Niklas Luhmann betont White in seinen Arbeiten dabei die Eigenständigkeit dieser sozialen Realität. Das Soziale ist nicht reduzierbar auf Individuen. Es sind soziale Strukturen oder Netzwerke, die die Entwicklung von individuellen Identitäten erst ermöglichen. Die Arbeiten von White widmen sich der Analyse solcher sozialer Netzwerke. Wo, wann und wie verdichtet sich Interdependenz? Wo, wann und wie entstehen Kopplungen und Entkopplungen im sozialen Verkehr? Whites Analysen gehen davon aus, dass die sozialen Strukturen den Möglichkeitsraum bilden und kontrollieren, in dem Identität entstehen und sich entwickeln kann. "Identity and control" lautet entsprechend der Titel seines theoretischen Hauptwerkes, das 1992 erschienen ist. (mehr)

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