Profound change in social structure has repercussions for social and political orientations. Social scientists have documented rising political alienation and polarization as well as the surfacing of new cleavages that challenge existing systems of resource allocation and representation. Relating these trends to underlying shifts in social structure poses a critical puzzle. How can we reconcile the notion of a dissolving 'individualized' social structure or the end of a 'politicized' social structure with humans' propensity to attach themselves to groups and with current social and political conflicts?
Social structural change and its connection to social and political orientations is more complex than research has commonly acknowledged. Established concepts of status inconsistency and cross- cuttingness produce contradictory predictions regarding the internalization of social structure and the prospects of social cohesion and political stability. RISS aims to resolve and settle this contradiction.
Whereas the social structure has changed dramatically, it retains its power to shape the life and orientations of individuals. In order to grasp the social and political transformation of our times, we need to take a closer look at these new social structures and understand how they shape the views, beliefs and preferences of individuals.
We aim to establish a multidimensional conceptualization of social- structural change and develop innovative empirical strategies to capture this complexity. The promise of our approach lies in the ability to build richer theories of how the social structure shapes individual and collective orientations, identities and outcomes and, ultimately, in a better understanding of our troubled times.