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Demagogie und digitale Plattformen, Stiftungen und Studierendenmobilität. Dies waren die Themen der in 2021 erschienenen FIW Working Paper

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In 2021 wurden in der Reihe FIW Working Papers vier neue Hefte herausgegeben, die sich mit aktuellen Themen aus Religion, Politik, Wissenschaft und digitaler Gesellschaft befassen.








WP 17 Cover


Eric Hendriks-Kim

Adapting to an American world:
The asymmetrical coupling of American and Chinese education




The extensive study-abroad consulting industry that prepares Chinese students for American schools exemplifies, and is conditioned by, the asymmetry in Sino-American educational connectivity. Mobility from China to the United States involves more students, money, and prestige, as well as a lengthier and more densely institutionalized preparatory path than movement in the opposite direction. America-bound Chinese applicants often derive from special America-oriented school programs and hire mentors from the consulting industry. These mentors help them write American-style application essays and cultivate extracurricular activities in conformance to Anglo-American upper-class ideals. Proximately, the applicants seek to adapt to the presumed values of the American admission commissioners. In extension, they could be seen as adapting to America’s education culture and class structure, or even to a global power constellation in which America is hegemonic. Yet, though tempting, framings that juxtapose a ‘world culture’-representing America to a peripheral Chinese ‘non-world’ run into conceptual contradictions.

Keywords: American college admissions, world culture theory, diversity discourse, study-abroad consulting, cultural hegemony

FIW Working Paper NO. 17 [Download]  



WP 17 Cover


Pascal Goeke & Evelyn Moser

Transformative foundations: Elements of a
sociological theory of organized philanthropic giving




Within the last two decades, philanthropic foundations have grown in number and wealth. Moreover, an increasing number of them have adopted transformative agendas. These shifts have been investigated in case studies, supported by consulting literature, praised, and criticized. Organization theory alone has remained surprisingly quiet. Therefore, the paper outlines a sociological organization theory of foundations that is particularly attentive to the contradictions and challenges of transformative philanthropy. By reviewing the literature, illustrating current developments, and combining Mauss’ theory of the gift with key concepts from organization theory (mainly resource dependence and legitimacy), foundations will be posited as relatively resource independent organizations that must, for the purpose of goal attainment, organize legitimacy in at least three dimensions: in relation to the initial gift, with regard to their position within democratic societies, and with respect to the societal impact that shall be triggered by means of the gift.

Gemeinnützige Stiftungen sind in den letzten beiden Dekaden nicht allein zahlreicher und wohlhabender, sondern auch ambitionierter geworden. Statt vorentschiedene Gemeinwohlideen lediglich finanzieren zu wollen, treten sie mit transformativen Agenden auf.Diese Verschiebungen wurden in zahlreichen Fallstudien untersucht, von einer Beratungsliteratur unterstützt und erfuhren sowohl Lob als auch Kritik. Die soziologische Organisationstheorie blieb jedoch auffallend soll. Um diese Lücke zu schließen, skizziert der Beitrag eine soziologische Organisationstheorie der Stiftung, die besonders auf die Widersprüche und Herausforderungen einer transformativen Philanthropie achtet. Der Entwurf beginnt mit einer Sichtung und Ordnung der Forschungsliteratur und kombiniert anschließend Mauss’ Gabentheorie mit Schlüsselkonzepten der Organisationstheorie (hauptsächlich Ressourcenabhängigkeitsansatz und Legitimität). Aus dieser Sicht erscheinen Stiftungen als relativ ressourcenunabhängige Organisationen, die sich zum Zwecke der Zielerreichung in wenigstens drei Dimensionen um Legitimität mühen müssen: In Bezug auf die initiale Stiftungsgabe, in Bezug auf ihre Position in Demokratien und bezüglich der angestrebten Wirkungen, die mit den Gabenprogrammen der Stiftung ausgelöst werden sollen.

FIW Working Paper NO. 16 [Download]



FIW Working Paper No 15



Stefan Priester





Numerous contributions, especially in the field of platform studies, show the growingsocietal relevance of digital platforms and their role in the digital transformation ofsociety. Meanwhile, sociological descriptions of the digital present are still dominatedby concepts that have been formulated in analog times. But as the example of digitalplatforms shows, the digital transformation of society cannot be fully grasped bydescribing it as a process of digitalization of the pre-digital. The paper begins bydescribing how the field of digital humanities first treated digital technologies asmere tools for empirical research within the epistemological frameworks of theestablished Humanities. Within this context digital technologies merit methodologicalconsideration, but do not require any further theoretical reflections (1). In contrastto thedigital humanities,thefield ofsoftwaretheoryno longertreatsdigital technologyas a tool, but as an object of inquiry in its own right. Drawing on the work ofFrabetti I argue that the distinction of meaning (Sinn) and software depends on itstheoretical context. Thus, the interrelation of meaning and software is not a given,but is a consequence of the theoretical model that is used (2). Based on thisassumption I ask, how the digitalization of modern society can be interpreted withinthe framework of Luhmann’s theory of world society. Here, I come to the conclusionthat the digitalization of world society does not constitute a fundamental shift awayfrom functional differentiation as the primary form of societal differentiation.Instead it can be described as an evolution in the operative realization of functionaldifferentiation (3). The fourth part describes how platform studies analyzes howdigital platforms modify the reproduction of functional subsystems such as Scienceor Economy (4). In the conclusion I argue with reference to Stichweh that digitalplatforms should be analyzed as a new “Eigenstructure“ of world society. Itsdifferentia specificaconsists in defying a strict distinction between social andtechnical systems by processing the reproduction of communication by means ofsoftware (5).

FIW Working Paper NO. 15 [Download]




Julia Stenzel

Demagogie und Volkstribune
Beobachtungsverhältnisse in Praxen charismatischer Stellvertreterschaft



The paper is intended to outline a research programme that approaches fgurations of charismatic representation between care (of 'the people') and accusation (of 'the others'). Late modern democracies seem to be increasingly confronted with 'populist' figures that claim to speak for an 'actual' or 'real' people, which institutionalised politics supposedly do not 'hear' and 'see'. The paper aims at these fgures and their theatricalities by using historical models, such as the Atic Demagogos (demagogue) and the Roman tribunus plebis (tribune of the people). The reference to European political history and, in a second step, with the concept of 'charisma', also to European religious history, is not a rhetorical feint, but an attempt to get a view of the implicit historical relations of contemporary populisms through historical models of social logics of leader- and followership. The argumentation follows a three-step approach: the frst part of the paper asks about the "borders and frontiers of demagogues", that is: about how demagogic practice not only establishes, perpetuates and transforms limits, but how it makes them its original site of speech (I.). A second part asks about the vigilances of the popular tribunate; about a moment of sousveillance that allows institutionalised relations of governmentality to be inverted (II.). A third summarising section examines an establishment of demagoguery as vigilant and demagoguery as discrete practice in a model of charismatic representation, as an example of which the fgure of former POTUS Donald J. Trump is presented (III.).

FIW Working Paper NO. 14 [Download]