Social Inequality and Differentiation

This research focus aims to link the two great sociological theoretical traditions of the macrosocial description and explanation of basic social structures. Differentiation theories and inequality theories usually run unrelated alongside each other in the sociological debate. In order to overcome this theoretically and empirically unsatisfactory state, we seek conceptual bridges and links between the two lines of theory.

Such an interaction between the two basic axes of macrostructure creates a more complex analytical framework that provides better access to many social issues and sociological problems. These include issues such as the relationship between individualism and social inequality; inclusion and exclusion; material and symbolic dimensions of social inequality; the interaction of class, ethnicity and gender (intersectionality); the relationship between national and global types of social inequality; the significance of the performance principle; the relationship between differentiation, inequality and social integration.

This research focus has to be further pursued with regard to its theoretical conceptualization as well as its significance for special sociologies. Thus, for example, it can serve as a starting point to theoretically redefine questions in the respective special sociologies. Lukas Pfäffle's dissertation project aims to connect the analysis of welfare states to such conceptual considerations and thus to place them on a broader theoretical basis. The analysis of the development and the impact of welfare states in such a theoretical context enables more comprehensive possibilities to theoretically grasp them as objects of research. At the same time, the analysis of welfare states can be embedded in a more general theoretical context.

Recommended literature:

  • Schwinn, Th.: Soziale Ungleichheit in differenzierten Ordnungen. Zur Wechselwirkung zweier Strukturprinzipien. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2019.
  • Schwinn, Th.: Kritik der Meritokratie, in: Soziale Systeme 19 (2015), S. 184-193.
  • Schwinn, Th.: Soziale Milieus: Varianten und Entstehungsbedingungen, in: Peter Isenböck, Linda Nell, Joachim Renn (Hg.): Die Form des Milieus. Zum Verhältnis gesellschaftlicher Differenzierung und Formen der Vergemeinschaftung. 1. Sonderband der Zeitschrift für Theoretische Soziologie. Weinheim: Beltz-Juventa 2014, S. 150-167.
  • Schwinn, Th.: Nationale und globale Ungleichheit, in: Berliner Journal für Soziologie 18 (2008), S. 8-31.
  • Schwinn, Th.: Soziale Ungleichheit. Bielefeld: transcript 2007.
  • Schwinn, Th.: Differenzierung und soziale Ungleichheit. Die zwei Soziologien und ihre Verknüpfung, 2. Aufl. Frankfurt a. M. 2004.