Research Program

Inequality and difference are social realities in all societies, however shaping coexistence to varying degrees. Inequality and difference, so the general assumption, are the results of social processes of negotiation through which access to and the right of disposal over material and immaterial resources are distributed.

Vertical and horizontal disparities here intersect: Vertical inequality encompasses economic differences in income wealth, and access to the means of production, the labor market, capital, credit, and welfare state services (such as education and healthcare). Horizontal inequality includes diverging possibilities for social belonging and participation arising from nationality, gender, skin color, religion, age, or language. The two forms overlap and strengthen (or weaken) each other intersectionally in the axes of global mechanisms of exclusion and inclusion such as racism, gender, and class relations, as well as linguicism.

The overarching aim of the DK program is to make the mechanisms in the construction and transformation of vertical and horizontal inequality and difference visible in their historical genesis. A significant thematic focus is here offered from the perspective of migration: Both the socio-economic development of nation-states as well as people’s everyday experiences are shaped by migration and mobility. Borders and migration regimes create conditions for ad-mission (or non-admission) and form the basis of social pluralism and difference. In the age of globalization, difference is not the exception but post-migratory normality. Migration thus constitutes an important perspective on social change in a global context.

Migration results from differences, producing and transforming inequality. Furthermore, migration makes inequality visible. Our common interest is the understanding of the dynamics emerging from this constellation of migration, inequality, and processes of differentiation: How are these dynamics constituted, from which structural conditions do they emerge, what effects do they have on societies and individuals? We theorize these questions on various levels (narratives, discourses, structures, practices, everyday behaviors) according to concrete empirical examples. We do not seek to dissipate these into cohesive grand narratives, but to maintain them in their individuality, as significant in their occasional contrariness.

For further information please consider the regulations of our DK.