Social Dynamics of the Self

Research Program

Individuals are socio-culturally shaped shapers of their socio-cultural environment. Put differently, culture and the individual mutually influence each other. Therefore, in order to understand the social dynamics of the self, neither focusing on the individual nor on the larger societal context alone would be sufficient.

A fruitful approach to understand these social dynamics of the self hence requires the combination of different levels of analysis, which integrates psychology (as the study of individual thinking, feeling, and action) and social sciences that study the larger context, in particular sociology and political science. This is the general aim of the RTG’s research program.

One basic dimension along which different construals of identity can vary is the extent to which the self is seen either as an independent entity or as interdependent with others. Whenever a cognitive, motivational, or emotional process refers to the self, subscribing to a lesser or greater degree to either pole of the independence-interdependence dimension is likely to affect the outcome. Research in the SELF program therefore addresses how independence-interdependence affects agency; i.e., the study of human beings as agents of their own life course in society. It focusses on the dynamics of the self, i.e., it should be change sensitive, be it in intra-individual terms or in terms of societal chronicity. Different context conditions of human behavior are addressed, be it intimate, immediate life contexts such as the family home or neighborhood, meso-level contexts like organizations, or more distal contexts such as the political and legal structural properties of societies or variations across cultures.

Research questions addressed in SELF dissertation projects should broadly correspond to the research program's seven project lines:

  1. Cultures of honor
  2. Intergenerational identity development
  3. Self-efficacy, health and well-being
  4. Conflict between family and work roles
  5. Social participation and (early) retirement
  6. Individualization and social morality
  7. Collective identities in transition

Download the complete SELF research program with all seven project line descriptions and potential research questions.


SELF's Principal Investigators

Below you will find the profiles of the SELF principal investigators. These BIGSSS faculty members serve as potential supervisors for dissertation projects conducted within the RTG.

Dr. Mandy Boehnke
Universität Bremen
Vice President for International Affairs, Academic Qualification, and Diversity (UB)
Tel.: +49 421 218 66430

Research Interests

  • Social Inequality
  • Families in the Context of Migration
  • Intergenerational Transmission of Value and Transitions

Prof. Dr. Klaus Boehnke
Constructor University
Methods Center Chair (BIGSSS)
Tel.: +49 421 200 3401

Research Interests

  • Political Socialization (Xenophobia, Right-wing extremism)
  • Value Change and Value Transmission
  • Social Cohesion

Methods Expertise

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Latent Growth Modeling
  • Nonparametric Statistics
  • Structural Equation Modeling

Prof. Sonja Drobnič, Ph.D.
Universität Bremen, Socium
Tel.: +49 421 218 66360

Research Interests

  • Quality of Life, Quality of Work, Work-Life Balance
  • Family, Household, Gender
  • Social Capital and Social Cohesion
  • Life Course Research

Methods Expertise

  • Event History (Survival) Analysis
  • Questionnaire Construction
  • Research Design and Modeling
  • Survey Design
  • Various Regression Techniques

Prof. em. Johannes Huinink
Universität Bremen
Tel.: +49 421 218 67340

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Kühnen
Constructor University
Academic Chair (BIGSSS), Speaker RTG Self
Tel.: +49 421 200 3426

Research Interests

  • Cultural Differences in the Meaning of Choice
  • Learning and Teaching in Multicultural Settings
  • Foundations of Morality and Religious Beliefs

Prof. Dr. Sonia Lippke
Constructor University
Tel.: +49 421 200 4730

Research Interests

  • Health Psychology
  • Return to Work
  • Workability
  • Diversity Management

Prof. Dr. Jan Lorenz
Constructor University
Tel.: +49 421 200 3034

Research Interests

Emergence of social complexity


Methods Expertise

  • Social Data Science with R
  • Mathematics for the Social Scientist
  • Data Visualization (with R)

Prof. Dr. Simone Scherger
Universität Bremen, Socium
Academic Chair (BIGSSS)
Tel.: +49 421 218 58569

Dr. Franziska Deutsch
Constructor University
Academic Coordinator (CU)
Tel.: +49 421 200 3958

Research Interests

  • Political Culture, esp. Values and Value Change
  • Political Participation, esp. Protest

Adacemic Coordination

  • Research Training Group SELF
  • Regular and Affiliated PhD Fellows at Constructor University