Silvia Rief Silvia Rief

Institut für Soziologie - Universität Innsbruck

Universitätsstrasse 15, A-6020 Innsbruck

Raum w 2.10

Tel: +43 512 507 73415


Silvia Rief is an associate professor specializing in interpretative sociology and cultural sociology. Her research interests encompass the intersections of consumption sociology, economic sociology, technology sociology, as well as cultural sociology and the history of social sciences and social theory.

After completing her studies in history and German studies at the universities of Salzburg, Berlin, and Vienna, she earned her Ph.D. in sociology from Goldsmiths College at the University of London. Her doctoral work focused on social stratification processes and experience-based consumption within club culture scenes in London. In 2016, she obtained her habilitation at the University of Innsbruck, focusing on societal processes of aestheticization. Silvia Rief has been a fellow of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in the UK. She has also served as a visiting lecturer at institutions such as the London School of Economics, Goldsmiths College, the University of Kent (2003-2004), and the Open University (2002-2012). Between 2017 and 2019, she conducted a two-year research stay at Harvard University as a Joseph A. Schumpeter Fellow and Botstiber Fellow.

Her research work has been published in various academic journals, including Sociology Compass, Journal of Cultural Economy, European Journal of Social Theory, and New Political Economy. In her current research, Silvia Rief explores sociotechnical systems and infrastructures of everyday provisioning, particularly within the context of drinking water infrastructure (in the RESIST research project). She also engages in historical and contemporary social science debates concerning societal knowledge, social calculation, and planning.

2016 Habilitation, University of Innsbruck (24.06.2016). Awarded: Venia docendi for Sociology.
1998-2003Doctoral Studies in Sociology, University of London, Goldsmiths College, Department of Sociology / Centre for Urban and Community Research. Awarded Degree: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, 30.04.2003).
1996-1998Postgraduate Course in Historical Anthropology, University of Vienna, Institute for Interdisciplinary Research and Training.
1990-1996Studies in History and German Studies at the Universities of Salzburg, Berlin (Erasmus-programme) and Vienna. Awarded Degree: Magistra of Philosophy (with distinction, 17.12.1996).
2018-2019Visiting Scholar, Harvard University, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.
2017-2018Schumpeter Professorship, Harvard University, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.
2016- to dateAssociate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Innsbruck.
2013-2016Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Innsbruck.
2004-2013Lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Innsbruck.
2002-2012Associate Lecturer for Social Sciences, Open University, UK; part-time position.
2003-2004Guest Lecturer in Sociology: London School of Economics and Political Science; Goldsmiths College, University of London; School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research at the University of Kent, Canterbury.
2000-2001Part-time Visiting Tutor, Goldsmiths College, University of London, Department of Sociology.
2018-2019Fellowship in Austrian-American Studies, Dietrich W. Botstiber Foundation, USA, $ 25,000.
2017-2018Joseph A. Schumpeter Research Fellowship, Schumpeter Society, Austria, $ 30,000.
2004Research grant of the University of Linz, Austria.
2001-2003Doctoral grant of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
2000Junior Research Fellowship of the International Research Centre for Cultural Studies, Vienna (awarded, but not consumed).
1998-2001ESRC award for PhD-studies (Economic and Social Research Council, UK).
1998-2000Postgraduate scholarship of the Ministry of Science, Austria for PhD-studies.
1998Doctoral studentship of the European University Institute, Florence (awarded, but not consumed).
1996Academic Prize of the Arbeiterkammer Oberösterreich for Diploma-Thesis.

Research Projects

2023Research proposal (Co-applicant) (submitted): Water management in Austria under climate change and urbanization: preparing for the future (Water4Future). Funding body: Austrian Climate Research Panel. Lead applicant: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sitzenfrei, Department of Infrastructure, UIBK
2022-2023Research project (Co-applicant): Digitales Pandemie- und Krisenmanagement in der Trinkwasserversorgung (KIRAS). Funding body: Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG). Lead applicant: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sitzenfrei, Department of Infrastructure, UIBK. Total funding: approx. € 422.000,-; Department of sociology: ca. € 58.000,- Role: Co-applicant and project leader for sociological research part.
2014Preparation of an interdisciplinary research project with Ass. Prof. Dr. Andreas Flora, Department of Architecture/Design, UIBK (Research proposal: The Playground of Europe. The Idea of ‘Comfort’ in High Alpine Architecture).
2014Research proposal SOCIALWORLDS (Consumption and Grammars of Worth in Social Worlds) submitted to the ERC-Consolidator Grant Programme.
2013Research proposal RE_CONSUME (Reconfigurations of Consumer Society) submitted to the ERC-Consolidator Grant Programme.
2012Research proposal Reconfigurations of Consumer Society submitted to the START programme of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). Review category: C2 (see details under:
2008-2009Research project Integriert geplante hocheffiziente Energie- und Gesellschaftssysteme für nachhaltige Lebensformen der Zukunft (INTENSYS). Funding body: Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG). Lead applicant: Prof. Michael Flach, School of Technical Sciences, University of Innsbruck Total funding: € 573,000; Sociological part of the project: € 50,700. Role: Co-applicant and project leader for sociological research part.

Research networks, working groups & coordination

2022-2023Submission and approval of proposal for an Incoming BritInn-Fellowship at the University of Innsbruck: Invitation of Prof. John O’Neill, Professor of Political Economy, University of Manchester. Research cooperation: “Neurath, Polanyi, Planning and Ecology”. Organization of several guest lectures at the University of Innsbruck.
2017-2023Member of the Research Cluster Comparative Inequality and Inclusion, Chair: Prof. Michèle Lamont, Weatherhead Center, Harvard University. Former Affiliate since 2020. Participation in the Culture & Social Analysis Workshop, Department of Sociology, Harvard University.
2017-2019Research project at Harvard: Consumption and the Democratic Ethos. An Exploration in Political and Economic Thought. 2018-2019: Continuation and special focus on: Political Philosophy, Economic Theory and Society: Karl Polanyi’s ‘Real Utopia’ Reconsidered.
2012-2017Coordination of the research group Socio-material Orders and Conduct of Life, Department of Sociology, University of Innsbruck.
2012Participation in the Austrian network for interdisciplinary research on sustainable societies, organized by the Austrian Institute for Sustainable Development.
2010-2012Interdisciplinary research group Auto/Biography – De/Reconstructions (part of the research platform Gender: Identities – Discourses – Transformations), University of Innsbruck.
2010-2020Member of the interdisciplinary research platform Organizations and Society, University of Innsbruck.
2006-2009Coordination of the research group Cities, Regions & Cultures part of the research area on Governance and Civil Society, University of Innsbruck.

Recent and upcoming publications:

  • (in preparation) Ludwig, G., Rief, S., Sperk, V., Tschuggnall, J. (ed.): Gender and Digitalization. Innsbruck Gender Lectures 2022/2023.
  • (under revision) Rief, Silvia, Scott, Alan: A tale of two sociologies: Social research and the sociology of knowledge in Central Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. In: Collyer, Fran (ed) Research Handbook for the Sociology of Knowledge. Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Rief, Silvia (2023): From ‘socialist accounting’ to the ‘livelihood of man’. The Viennese and the Columbia Polanyi. Journal of Austrian-American Studies 7 (2): 213-246. DOI-Link
  • Rief, Silvia (2023): Karl Polanyi’s ‘socialist accounting’ and ‘overview’ in the age of data analytics. New Political Economy 28 (2): 284-298. DOI-Link
  • Rief, Silvia (2022): Betriebsführung als Kriegsführung gegen den Feind. KZ-Zwangsarbeit in der Produktionsverlagerung der Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG im KZ Gusen und der Linzer Volksgerichtsprozess gegen die ehemaligen Betriebsleiter. coMMents 1: 123-154. DOI-Link
  • Scott, Alan and Rief, Silvia (2021): Reactionaries of the lectern. Universalism, anti-empiricism, and corporatism in Austrian (and German) social theory. European Journal of Social Theory 24 (2): 285-305. DOI-Link
  • Rief, Silvia (2021): Consumerism. In: Ritzer, G., Rojek, C. (eds): Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. 2nd edition. DOI-Link

Academic teaching 2000-2023

Courses, University of Innsbruck:

* VO = Lecture, SE = Seminar, PS = Preparatory seminar, EXK = excursion, SWS = weekly hours per term, WS = winter term, SS = summer term

Hours taught:

  •  4 SWS (weekly hours) per academic term from WS 2004/2005 to WS 2015/16
  •  8 SWS (weekly hours) per academic term from WS 2016/17
BA Sociology:

VO Geschlechterforschung (1 SWS, WS 2007/08, SS 2008–2016, SS 2020)

VO Lebenswelt und Lebensformen I (2 SWS, SS 2009–2016, SS 2020–)

PS Lebenswelt und Lebensformen I (1 SWS, SS 2009–2014, SS 2017, SS 2020–)

VO Lebenswelt und Lebensformen II (2 SWS, WS 2009/10–2016/17, WS 2020/21)

SE Lebenswelt und Lebensformen II (2 SWS, WS 2009/10–2016/17, WS 2020/21)

SE Markt, Staat, soziale Institutionen II (2 SWS, SS 2008)

SE Bachelorarbeit (0,5 SWS, WS 2014/15, SS 2015, 1 SWS SS 2016, 2017)

SE Methoden der Sozialwissenschaften, Vertiefung (2 SWS, WS 2016/17)

VU Konsumsoziologie: Einführung und Überblick (2 SWS, WS 2021/22)

VU Aktuelle konsumsoziologische Forschungsthemen (2 SWS, WS 2021/22)

MA Sociology

SE Handlungstheorie (2 SWS, SS 2020, SS 2021)

SE Kultur und Gesellschaft (2 SWS, SS 2022-)

VO Kultur und Gesellschaft (2 SWS, SS 2023-)

SE Begleitseminar Masterarbeit (2 SWS, WS 2023/24)

PhD Sociology

SE PhD-Seminar (2 SWS, SS 2017)

MA Gender, Culture and Social Change:

SE Geschlechterverhältnisse in Migrationsgesellschaften (2 SWS, WS 2016/17, WS 2019/20)

SE Reproduktion und Wandel sozialer Ungleichheit (2 SWS, WS 2020/21, WS 2021/22, WS 2023/24)

VO Reproduktion und Wandel sozialer Ungleichheit (1 SWS, WS 2021/22, WS 2023/24)

SE Begleitseminar (Master-Thesis, 2 SWS, WS 2020/21)

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