In research and teaching, our team has two widely ramified areas of work: the analysis of social structures of modern Western societies, on the one hand, and of their cultures, on the other. The analysis of social structures deals with the distribution of resources, opportunities, positions, and networks in the population. Related to this are questions of the emergence, the reproduction, and the consequences of social inequalities in historical perspective and in international comparison. Cultural analysis focuses on the distribution and institutionalization of central belief systems in society. Such cultural representations include values, norms, ideologies, knowledge resources, taste preferences, and lifestyles.
Our special focus is on how these subject areas - which are often separated in sociology - are intertwined: We are interested in cultural dimensions of social structure and structural approaches to cultural phenomena.
Our research is based on the principles of the empirical-analytical program in the social sciences. This includes the precise formulation of explanatory theories and their test in transparent and rigorous empirical research. Methodologically, we work primarily with quantitative data and combine them with qualitative data, if necessary. Starting from a sociological perspective, we are open to broaden our horizon in interdisciplinary outreach. Our research activities aim at gaining basic scientific knowledge as well as solving practical problems in applied contexts.
Currently, we are particularly engaged in studying the participation of the German population in high and popular culture. We have conducted the largest study to date on this topic in Germany. Since 2016, the panel survey "Cultural Education and Cultural Participation in Germany" has been funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
The working group of social stratification research is member of the priority area "Interdisciplinary Public Policy" at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. Prof. Dr. Gunnar Otte is co-supervisor of the graduate research group "Resilient Institutions", funded by the Gutenberg Nachwuchskolleg.