The Institute for World Society Studies conducts and supports research on a range of global issues. It takes concepts of world society as particularly developed in sociological systems theory and in sociological neo-institutionalism as theoretical signposts for conceptual and empirical work, yet also accommodates other approaches from different theoretical and disciplinary backgrounds in globalization research and transnationalism studies.
Contemporary research within the Institute includes, inter alia, work on the emergence of the system of world politics, functional differentiation of world society, issues of global social policy, the emergence of the modern nation-state in the context of world society, and research on the concept of global social inequality. A detailed list of ongoing research activities can be found here. A list of recent and forthcoming publications is available here.
In addition to its role as an active research institute, the Institute for World Society studies also serves as a thematic focus point for a range of doctoral dissertations and post-doc research projects which are not formally part of the Institute, but highlight the prominence of its thematic range in its immediate research environment.
The Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS) offers doctoral researchers an innovative research environment that fosters creativity through interdisciplinary exchange. The main characteristic of the graduate school is the integration of research from a variety of fields (sociology, history, political science, anthropology, and gender studies) into a joint organizational framework and a joint curriculum.
Because innovative science emerges from and thrives in a creative atmosphere, the BGHS promotes small working groups with individualized guidance and supports the formation of a diverse and lively community among its doctoral researchers. Young researchers are also supported in their efforts to combine family life and an academic career.
One of the explicit aims at the BGHS is to prepare our doctoral researchers for the academic or non-academic labour market in Germany and abroad. The graduate school collaborates with foreign researchers, promotes the participation of our doctoral researchers in international conferences, integrates studies abroad into our doctoral program and helps build key skills so that our doctoral researchers can position themselves well in the international scientific community. As preparation for work in a non-academic context, the graduate school provides career service and programs to enhance key qualifications.
At the graduate school, intellectual and interdisciplinary exchange across national borders is promoted through a guest lecturers program and through short-term visiting fellowships for foreign researchers. We also host an annual seminar in history and sociology which draws international young researchers to Bielefeld each year.
Bielefeld can be designated the capital city of German-language sociology. The Faculty of Sociology at Bielefeld University is the only independent faculty of sociology in the Federal Republic of Germany, and the largest institution of its kind in the German-speaking area. The founding of the university in 1969 created a site of strong socio-political interest. For this reason a conscious emphasis was placed on the social sciences, above all on sociology and history.
The faculty is characterized by its broad research spectrum. It is sub-divided into eleven research and teaching units, to which the majority of the total 31 professorships (including junior professors and associate professors) are assigned. At the intersection between research and teaching, the faculty has long been committed to well-organized doctoral training. In collaboration with the Faculty of History, these activities are institutionalized in the BGHS.
The Faculty of Law was among the first faculties of the newly founded Bielefeld University to admit students and to start teaching in the fall of 1969. The university then had a total of 270 students in all departments. The very first lecture was in law. Today, 23 full time professors, supported by their respective teams, other renowned experts and first-rate practitioners, teach and research at our faculty, which currently is the academic home of about 4.000 law students.
From the beginning the faculty has striven for excellence in teaching as well as in research to contribute to the university's overall mission. It offers first-class training in legal theory, doctrine, and practice in order to broaden and deepen legal and interdisciplinary thought. Our faculty has produced leaders in law, government and society, most notably including several Justices appointed to the Federal Constitutional Court, the European Court of Justice and the State Constitutional Court. Members of the faculty play an active role in the legal and political discourse in Germany and Europe through numerous publications, lectures and academic conferences or by serving as counselors to the Federal and State Government as well as political parties.
History at Bielefeld has set itself the programmatic task of analysing the theoretical foundations of historical research. This guiding orientation towards theory links up with and promotes a highly productive diversity of research subjects and approaches. As a result, historical research at Bielefeld University does not just range across all epochs but also across numerous systematic fields. One special feature is the way history in Bielefeld encompasses areas that other universities treat separately from history. At Bielefeld, you can study economic history, visual history/history of art, and history of science all in one department. Faculty focuses range from global and entangled histories, to practices of comparison and the dynamics of historical change, and InterAmerican Studies.
This theoretical approach to the subject encourages intensive discussion not only between the individual research and teaching units but also with neighbouring disciplines. The Centre for Theories in Historical Research set up in 2017 will provide the institutional framework for this exchange and promote an internationally networked discussion over the relevance of theories in historical research and history teaching. Post-graduate training in the BGHS is also based on interdisciplinary dialogue that transcends the borders of the discipline.
Forthcoming on 1&2 October and 9&10 November: RTG-Workshops
Two-day workshops at Bielefeld University on 'Imagining Belonging in World Politics: Concepts, practices and struggles' and 'Balance and Competition in World Politics' organized by members of the RTG World Politics.
Guest Lecture by Georgios Varouxakis (London)
Lecture series 'Signaturen der Weltgesellschaft' jointly organized with the Institute for World Society on "Towards a genealogy of the concept of the West" presented by Prof. Dr. Georgios Varouxakis (Queen Mary University), Thursday 12 July at 18.15 in room X-C3-107.
Guest Lecture by Ursula Mense-Petermann (Bielefeld)
Lecture series 'Signaturen der Weltgesellschaft' jointly organized with the Institute for World Society on "Observing transnational labor markets through the lens of economic sociology - on the production of a transnational labor market in the meat industry" presented by Prof. Dr. Ursula Mense-Petermann (Bielefeld University), 19 June at 18.15 in room X-C3-107.
Workshop with Jennifer Pitts (Chicago)
Workshop jointly organized with the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology on "Boundaries of the International" held by Prof. Dr. Jennifer Pitts (University of Chicago)
Guest Lecture by Shih-Jiunn Shi (Bielefeld)
Lecture series 'Signaturen der Weltgesellschaft' jointly organized with the Institute for World Society on "Cultural Convergence or Political-economic Divergence: A Comparative Perspective on the Welfare Development in Greater China" presented by Shih-Jiunn Shi (Fellow at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research Bielefeld).
Guest Lecture by Or Rosenboim (London)
Lecture series 'Signaturen der Weltgesellschaft' jointly organized with the Institute for World Society on "Globalism: Historical Perspectives on a Contested Concept" presented by Dr. Or Rosenboim.
RTG newsletter was launched
The RTG successfully launched its newsletter. The first issue is now available online. The newsletter provides an overview of past developments and events of the RTG and informs about future events. The next issue is expected to be published at the end of the summer semester.
New doctoral researcher joined the RTG
On 01 March, Karlson Preuss took up his position in the Research Training Group. In his doctoral dissertation, he focuses on "The Unwritten Constitution as an Intersection between Global Law and World Politics".
A touch of world politics in Bad Salzuflen
The RTG participated in the Annual Retreat of the Institute for World Society Studies on 14 and 15 December 2017 in Bad Salzuflen. More.
Guest lecture by George Lawson (LSE) on 28 November
We would like to invite you to the Guest lecture "Global Historical Sociology" by Dr. George Lawson (LSE) on Tuesday, 28 November at 18:15 in room no. X C3-107.
RTG "World Politics" officially launched
Ten international young scientists and eleven principal investigators will investigate the emergence of world politics as a specific type of politics from an interdisciplinary perspective. More.
Official Opening of the RTG on 24 October
We would like to invite you to the Official Opening of the RTG and the guest lecture "'Lies are the Law of the World!' News and Global Media Networks in the Twentieth Century" by Prof. Dr. Heidi Tworek (University of British Columbia, Vancouver) on Tuesday, 24 October at 18:15 in room no. X C3-107.
The RTG "World Politics" started on 01 October
On 01 October 2017, the Research Training Group "World politics: The emergence of political arenas and modes of observation in world society" started. Nine doctoral researchers and one post-doctoral researcher took up their positions.
The RTG is approved
We are pleased to announce that the DFG has approved our Research Training Group application. The new Research Training Group `World politics: The emergence of political arenas and modes of observation in world society´ will start 01 October 2017.