Network of Excellence "Economic Change, Quality of Life and Social Cohesion" (EQUALSOC)
Within the framework of this network of excellence, funded over a period of five years by the European Commission, the MZES cooperated with 13 leading social science institutions across Europe. The aim was to establish interdisciplinary cooperation of scientists from economics, social policy, sociology and political science to foster outstanding European research competence for examining the consequences of economic change for the quality of life and social cohesion in the societies of Europe. Based on various large-scale international data sources, the objective was to explore – by comparing countries, as a rule – how the quality of life and social cohesion are affected by factors such as education and social mobility, developments in the labour market, in the distribution and intergenerational mobility of income, in families and social networks, in cultural and social differentiation as well as in social confidence and social and political legitimacy. In line with the character of the network, research was conducted in numerous groups and teams composed of international researchers. At the MZES, researchers played a very active role in initiating and directing such teams. Among others, Walter Müller and Steffen Schindler (both MZES) directed the work group "Education, Social Mobility and Social Cohesion". To date, this group has published five special editions of major professional journals, one edited volume, and more than one hundred articles in other professional journals. Within this group, particular emphasis was given to the development and evaluation of better instruments for internationally comparable measurement of educational attainment in teams directed by Irena Kogan (MZES) and Silke Schneider (Nuffield College Oxford). Marita Jacob (MZES) and David Reimer (MZES) directed studies on the role of higher education for social inequality. In several other teams, MZES researchers have contributed a number of articles investigating the generation of unequal educational opportunities in the native and in different immigrant populations. Irena Kogan (MZES) was responsible for a team exploring the choice of partners among immigrants in different European countries. The results were published in a special volume of the Zeitschrift für Familienforschung (Journal of Family Research). Jan van Deth and Sonja Zmerli (both MZES) directed a team working on "Civicness, Equality, and Democracy: A 'Dark Side' of Social Capital?" This team produced a special edition of the American Behavioral Scientist. Claus Wendt (MZES), together with Joakim Palme (SOFI), directed a team analyzing institutions and provisions of the European welfare states and how these are perceived and assessed by the population in the individual countries. Additionally, Claus Wendt was responsible for a team analyzing institutional change in European welfare states. The results of both teams were published in international journals. Bernhard Ebbinghaus (MZES) directed together with Alex Bryson (LSE) and Jelle Visser (AIAS, Amsterdam) another team exploring the reasons for the decline in trade union membership in Europe and its consequences for social cohesion. The results of two meetings will be published as a special edition of the European Journal of Industrial Relations in summer 2011. Apart from its research achievements, the network was particularly significant for integrating young MZES scholars into the international scientific community. In summer schools, methods workshops and conferences organized by the network, many young researchers had an opportunity to present their contributions to distinguished international colleagues for discussion, to establish contacts, and to gain experience in European research cooperation with colleagues from their own generation.