Universität Bielefeld

© Universität Bielefeld

Zentrum für Kindheits- und Jugendforschung

Centre for Research on Childhood and Adolescence


Welcome to the Centre for Research on Childhood and Adolescence

Bielefeld University's Centre for Research on Childhood and Adolescence (ZKJF) grew out of the Faculty of Educational Science's research focus on Youth Research and was formally established on September 1, 1990. Its mission is to support and profile interdisciplinary social and educational research on childhood and adolescence in Bielefeld. It regards itself as a self-organized work, discussion, and publication forum and as a location for long-term inter- and intra-disciplinary exchange on theoretical and empirical issues in research on childhood and adolescence at Bielefeld University and beyond. The centre aims to support research on the life situations, well-being, social practices, and individual coping strategies of children, adolescents, and young adults. It also maintains cooperation and exchange relationships with interested actors and institutions in the business world, government, and local communities. The centre aspires to deliver research-based recommendations to policymakers and practitioners and strives to contribute to discussions on the effects that current social developments are having on the life situations of children and adolescents. To promote the international exchange with scholars from both Europe and further afield, the centre organizes a wide range of academic events, congresses and symposia. Additionally, the centre supports young academics engaged in research on childhood and adolescence.


Research Focus

As a centre serving all working groups, the ZKJF aims to promote and link together the various research activities on the topic of childhood and adolescence at the Faculty of Educational Science and support exchange between different research approaches and traditions. Hence, the centre takes a pluralistic approach to research on childhood and adolescence. Childhood and youth-related research can look back on a long and many-faceted tradition in Bielefeld University's Faculty of Educational Science. Current research includes children and adolescents as clients and addressees of welfare state institutions and the educational system, life-course-related transitions, media use and socialization, and the normalization and construction of childhood within the context of social differences. The research methods applied range from quantitatively oriented survey research on children and their families to classic qualitative interview studies and practice-theory-inspired, ethnographic, and ethno-methodological approaches.


Activities at the centre

The centre periodically organizes conferences, summer schools, further training courses on methodological issues, colloquia, and talks on childhood and youth research. The last major conference took place in Bielefeld University on the 7th and 8th of November in 2016 and dealt with the topic 'Growing up in times of "crisis". Perspectives of childhood and youth research'. The centre periodically invites well-known researchers on childhood and adolescence to give individual lectures at Bielefeld University. It intensively promotes internal communication between faculty members on current ongoing research projects, promotions, and research ideas in the context of childhood and youth research. These activities focus particularly on promoting young academics. In its quarterly newsletter, the ZKJF informs interested students about its activities, current events, new publications by members of the centre, calls for papers, and conference announcements. It has its own long-standing book series on youth research ('Jugendforschung' published by Beltz-Juventa). Furthermore, its members participate in the publication of a number of book series in the context of childhood and adolescence research. For example, Helga Kelle has been the editor of the series 'Kindheiten - Neue Folge' (Beltz-Juventa) since 2017; and Claudia Machold, Christine Hunner-Kreisel, and Isabell Diehm are co-editors of the series 'Kinder, Kinderheiten und Kindheitsforschung' (Springer VS).



The members of the centre belong to various faculties and research institutes at Bielefeld and other universities. Currently, the centre brings together a total of 70 researchers working at all academic levels. Associated membership of the centre is also open to members of other universities and research institutions. Its board is elected for a term of two years and consists of four researchers working in the centre (currently Helga Kelle, Uwe Sander, Friederike Schmidt, and Bettina Ritter), one staff member from the technical and administrative sector (Ulrike Niermann), and one student (Mira Püschel). Two spokespersons elected from the board (currently Uwe Sander and Friederike Schmidt) assume operative control of the centre as well as its representation inside the faculty, towards other university departments, and towards the public sphere.