Religious Anti-Capitalism? A Comparative Study of Jewish, Christian and Islamic Positions

This project examines religiously motivated critiques of both capitalism and marketization based on sociological case studies of Jewish, Christian and Islamic communities in Frankfurt am Main.

With their value systems and interpretations of the world, religious communities position themselves not only within the religious sphere, but also in relation to secular spheres of society and the institutionalized logic informing action there. Religious communities provide interpretive resources that can enter into tense relationships with the logic inherent in functional areas of society (e.g., politics, law, economics and science). Of particular relevance in this connection are the often conflict-ridden positionings of religious groups in relation to the economic sphere, brought to light by the classical studies of Max Weber. Against the backdrop of recent economic crises and the development of a “market society” in which exchanges and competitive relations are finding their way into a growing number of areas of life, religious positions that are critical of capitalism represent a promising field of inquiry, but are rarely studied in relation to contemporary society.

Our ethnographic investigation is divided into three subtopics and analytical levels: (1) On a descriptive level, it will address the question of what exactly the religious critiques of both capitalist profit-maximization processes and marketization tendencies take aim at, as well as which Jewish, Christian and Islamic semantics they employ. (2) On an explicative level, it will focus on how religious positions on capitalist market orders and their social consequences can be explained. Drawing on the figuration-sociological reflections of Norbert Elias, it will grasp thematic and social positions on the basis of their interdependence with other positions. (3) Finally, in close interdisciplinary cooperation with the other subprojects with the same LOEWE focus, the research project will examine whether and how we can justify the act of normatively privileging those forms of religious market criticism that are compatible with pluralist approaches as opposed to those that are not. In this connection, the project will proceed on the assumption that a democratic civil society depends on interpretive communities that serve as critical agents of societal reflection.

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Ferdinand Sutterlüty
Project duration: 2017-2020


Social structures of Bronze Age societies

The theoretical framework for the reconstruction of Bronze Age social structures is formed by two current discourses: One refers to the Aegean Bronze Age as the origin of a process of concentration and centralization of power, culminating in the figure of a powerful ruler or an “elite” on top, extending its influences even to Central European societies. In contrast, the other discourse could be characterized as “beyond elites”, criticizing the fixation of traditional Bronze Age research on “elites”. Both discourses refer to neoevolutionism and its stage models, in which increasing complexity goes hand in hand with increasing hierarchy and durability. Against this backdrop the subproject in question aims at generating models of Bronze Age societies without relating either to unspecifiable “elites” on the one hand or an eclectic approach to theories inspired by neoevolutionism on the other. Instead, it is informed by ethnological and cultural-anthropological studies on mechanisms of political and social integration beyond vertical exercise of power. In other words, models are to be developed that don’t naturally reduce social structure to organization of power and furthermore don’t equate hierarchies in settlement and social hierarchies.

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Ferdinand Sutterlüty
Project duration: 2016-2018



Project SchuWaMi: School Change in a Society shaped by migration - School Culture(s) in the current context of forced migration

The project SchuWaMi examines how schools in Germany have reacted to the increased reception of refugee children and youths, which institutional changes have taken place and are still taking place in this context. It also looks at whether and how schools succeed in promoting the social participation of children and youths with a refugee background.

In recent years, schools in Germany have taken in many children and adolescents with refugee experience. The schools have reacted in different ways and they continue to respond differently with this pedagogical, organizational, and didactic challenge. The study takes these different responses as a starting point. We assume that in the current immigration situation schools particularly push such measures that are intended to improve academic success and the social inclusion of refugees in the school.

Research on social inclusion and the participation in the school of immigrant students usually focuses on learning and individual development instead of the developmental potential of institutions. The project SchuWaMi is interested in the role of school cultures and their institutional conditions. The integration of children and adolescents with refugee experiences is shaped by school cultures, but these cultures are not static and can change when admitting refugee children and adolescents. SchuWaMi also assesses effects on the social inclusion and participation in the school of refugee students, working interdisciplinary, longitudinally and with a mixed-methods research design.

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Birgit Becker (Goethe University Frankfurt, FB03),  Prof. Dr. Dominique Rauch (DIPF), Ver. Prof. Dr. Patricia Stošić (Goethe University Frankfurt, FB04), Dr. Svenja Vieluf (DIPF)
Projekt duration: 2018-2022

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