Department IV: The Social Regime

Head of Department: Prof. Dr. Thomas Schaarschmidt

The research projects of Department IV investigate the question of how social processes were contained and regulated by the political systems of the twentieth century. How did social inequalities develop? Which processes of mobilization and rationalization are evident? And how were normative orders subjectively appropriated?

Current projects are investigating the relationship between social inequality and the welfare state, social mobilization during the Second World War, Fordism as a signature characteristic of the twentieth century, and the paradigm of resocialization.


Members of the Reich Labor Service on the way to a rally of the NSDAP, 1933. Photo: Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-P021658 / Frankl, A. / CC-BY-SA 3.0, Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-P021658, Reichsarbeitsdienst, Marsch zu einer Kundgebung, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

Department IV’s researchers investigate concepts, instruments and practices of societal control and mobilisation, the interrelation between mobilisation and society’s self-interests as well as processes of ‘self-mobilisation’.


President Horst Köhler also welcomed the Monday demonstrators on his visit to the Diplomatic Corps in Bremen on 10 September 2007. Photo: Frank Kleinschmidt, so:leb Sozialer Lebensbund e.V. Bremen, 2007-09-10 Horst Koehler Montagsdemo Bremen, public domain, details on Wikimedia Commons

Department IV addresses social inequality as a key category in contemporary societal analysis. Researchers seek to analyse social-historical questions in light of the modern state’s historical involvement in social welfare policy. At the heart of the examination is the question of the...


Prison Klingelpütz in Cologne, pulled down in 1969. © Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln, rba_113519.

The research topic addresses processes of subjectification in Western, liberal societies, though it is especially a question of the emergence of novel political subjects.


"Workers on the first moving assembly line put together magnetos and flywheels for 1913 Ford autos" Highland Park, Michigan. Photo: Anonymous, Ford assembly line - 1913, public domain, details on Wikimedia Commons

With the field of Rationalisation, Department IV takes into account a diverse range of aspects – economic, social, and cultural – that have characterised modernisation over the course of the twentieth century.