Integration paths and adolescent developments of unaccompanied refugee minors in institutional youth care facilities (AUF) 

The primary objective of the project is to explore the adolescent spaces of opportunity, integration paths and developmental processes of unaccompanied refugee minors in promotion of their integration.

Germany has seen a significant increase in the number of unaccompanied refugee minors arriving in recent years. Correspondingly, challenges have increased, not least for the institutional youth care facilities in which they are housed, in meeting needs for age and situation appropriate assistance and support of the adolescents with oftentimes burdensome biographies.

This project will analyse and reconstruct the interplay of biographically acquired internal resources and external pressures in the context of flight, asylum seeking, and/or reorientation in the new society with a focus on the developmental processes, resources, barriers, and integration paths of these adolescents. The aim is to define structural and personal factors which act in support of or in obstruction to their integration process and productive psychosocial development. The results will, inter alia, lead to recommendations for the practical work with unaccompanied refugee minors.

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Vera King
Project duration: 2017-2019
Funded by: Heidehof Stiftung

Paradoxes of Child Welfare: A Study on the Dynamics of German Family Law and Public Child and Youth Services

This research project, which is situated in the sociology of family, childhood and law, is based on the finding that in the attempt to protect and promote child welfare, the constitutional state repeatedly produces counterproductive effects. In other words, family court proceedings and interventions in family life by providers of public child and youth services have effects that run counter to the normative principle that caused the general clause on child welfare to be established in law in the first place and that has been operationally institutionalized by the authorities of the youth welfare office. This is the phenomenon to which the phrase “paradoxes of child welfare” refers. However, the project will not content itself with the diagnosis that court decision-making processes and legal interventions can produce results that diverge dramatically from the intentions of the focus on child welfare. It will examine the case of Germany in order to show the extent to which the development of this area of law from the 1960s onward can be seen as the continued attempt to interpret the normative paradoxes perceived by both the relevant professions and the general public and to remedy them by instituting appropriate reforms.

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Ferdinand Sutterlüty
Project duration: 2015–2019
Funded by: VolkswagenStiftung

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The Quantified Life. Productive and Counterproductive Consequences of Quantification in the Digitally Optimizing Society

The projects topic are the ambivalent consequences of optimization logics that, to a large extent, are orientated towards quantitative increase and have gained considerable significance in the course of the digital change. By means of the tripartite project design the study will examine productive as well as counterproductive dimensions of the ‚orientation towards figures’ and the quantification of life in the context of organizational and individual digital processes of optimization, including their intersubjective as well as psychic implications.
Thus, the intended research project builds upon the study ‘Aporias of Perfection in Accelerated Modernities. Current Cultural Change in Self-Concepts, Relationship Patterns and Body Practices’ (APAS), funded by the VolkswagenStiftung in association with the initiative ‘Key Topics in Science and Society’ [Schlüsselthemen für Wissenschaft und Gesellschaft]. The APAS-project studied the meaning and consequences of optimization demands in social practices regarding various social fields and realms of life as well as in relation to changes in cultural norms and concepts of ‘normality’ and ‘pathology’. Central results of this study lead to the following assumptions:
Firstly: Steady optimization of processes and products are a precondition for production and reproduction dynamics in contemporary societies. Closely connected to these dynamics are efficient, economic and primarily quantifying controlling, marketing and action logics, that not only affect organisational contexts, but also the individual lebensführung [i.e. lifestyle], social relationships and even shape self-concepts and body practices of the individuals.
Secondly: Caused by technical and interrelated sociocultural changes digitally quantifying optimization has gained significance and shapes in conjunction with its diverse manifestations the institutional strategies of increase, but also the social and psychic coping strategies and interpretative patterns.
Thirdly: Digitally quantifying optimization simultaneously has productive and counterproductive sides to it, creates partly dilemmata in the face of the tension between quality and quantity of optimization and is being experienced by the individuals in some respect ambivalently. The manifestations, backgrounds and consequences for the various contexts are to be traced.
Hence, the subprojects explore the following areas of digitally quantifying optimization:

Sp I (Jena): The meaning of and orientation towards figures in practices and interactional modes of professional organisations.

Sp II (Frankfurt/M.): The meaning of and orientation towards figures, especially in regard to the forming of relationships in Social Media in relation to non-digital and face-to-face communication (Frankfurt) in comparison to the clinical patients (sample in Berlin).

Sp III (Berlin): The meaning of and orientation towards figures in consideration of body practices performed by clinical patients and in relation to non-patients (sample in Frankfurt).

In its tripartite transdisciplinary research design and by means of its method triangulation (quantitative and different qualitative approaches) the intended project follows the path that the APAS-project successfully has pursued. Hence, it aims at intensifying the analysis of the correlations between various social levels as well as tensions of standardizations and changes in practices, all to often culminating in exhausting and pathogenic scenarios as well as developing new concepts and methodological approaches to study the intermediation of society and the individual, culture and psyche.

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Vera King, Prof. Dr. Benigna Gerisch (IPU Berlin), Prof. Dr. Hartmut Rosa (Univ. Jena und Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt)
Project duration: 2018-2021
Funded by: VolkswagenStiftung