WZB - Berlin Social Science Center

New publication

A new book edited by Wolfgang Merkel and Sascha Kneip discusses the potential causes of the current “crisis of democracy”. Does this stem from a lack of participation by citizens, the absence of trust in the political elite, or does the real root of the problem lie with political institutions themselves? Among other topics, the researchers analyze the role of globalization and deregulation and demonstrate why challenges to democracy have morphed into phenomena of crisis.

Dress shoes standing next to Rich and Poor
pick-uppath/iStock / Getty Images Plus

How to bring back social cohesion, asks WZB President Jutta Allmendinger in the Washington Post. Social interaction between different social circles — whether through discourse, clarification, affirmation, or examination of changing norms and values — is crucial for any democratic society to function. But people need also the security of the familiar, emphasizes Allmendinger.

The growing digital availability of political communication offers many new opportunities for studying collective decision-making in modern societies. Corresponding tools for automated text analyses, however, are often developed in marketing applications or are available for English material only. Christian Rauh has thus developed and validated a dictionary for quantifying the sentiment expressed in German political language.

New study

It’s a well-known fact that becoming unemployed takes a toll on individuals’ health. There is also little doubt about the fact that families can cushion the blow of losing a job. This study is the first to investigate the concrete impact of this family support – be it emotional or financial – and the role played by the external welfare state.

Porträtfoto Anette Fasang
David Ausserhofer

Congratulations to Anette Fasang and Silke Aisenbrey for winning the 2018 Kanter Award! Their article, “The interplay of work and family trajectories over the life course: Germany and the United States in comparison,” was selected as the best work-family research paper.


Children from an immigrant background remain disadvantaged in the German educational system. Many studies ascribe this to the educational background of the parents and the socio-economical position of the family. Benjamin Schulz, researcher at the WZB and Sarah Carol (Cologne University) have now researched what role religiosity and membership in a religious community plays in Germany using data from the National Education Panel (NEPS). The findings point to a complex situation.


The WZB Berlin Social Science Center investigates fundamental societal issues. Our focus is on education and work, migration, democracy and autocracy, international politics and law. At the WZB researchers from various disciplines work together – mainly from sociology, political science, economics, law and psychology.