Current Projects

DFG Project on Adoption Services

The adoption of unrelated children is seldom researched from a sociological perspective. While there are a few studies on the period after matching, we know next to nothing about the preceding process of adopting a child: How are adoption applicants – mostly childless – evaluated for their ‚suitability’ as parents and classified as (un)suitable? Among the many ‚suitable’ applicants, how is one couple then identified as the best fit to adopt a specific child? The process of adopting a child will be investigated
from an interactionist perspective as a co-construction of good parents and parenthood by adoption applicants and adoption mediators. With our project proposal, we want to a) understand adoption in Germany from the perspective of both adoption applicants and adoption mediators. Furthermore, the special case of adoption offers b) a good opportunity to grasp the normative pattern of good childhood/parenthood and reveals c) the power this normative pattern has to (re)produce inequalities. On the basis of this ‚small’ subject, the project will allow us to study fundamental sociological questions
about childhood/family and social inequalities. The research project is of particular importance against the backdrop of changing forms of family, which are already evident in the guidelines for adopting a child (especially regarding same sex and elderly adoption applicants).

The data basis consists of a) longitudinal, process-accompanying interviews with adoption mediators and applicants, b) participatory observation of team meetings in the youth welfare office and of informational events for applicants, as well as c) documents such as case files from the youth welfare office and self- reports made by the applicants.

(De)Institutionalization of Education

Alexandra König and Jessica Schwittek are part of the research initiative (De)Institutionalisierung von Bildung und Erziehung ((De)Institutionalization of Education). The initiative now also has its own homepage:

Growing up in transnational families. Children's perspectives on good childhood

This bi-national research collaboration deals with the phenomenon of transnational families, which are being formed due to temporary migration of workers between Poland and Germany. In Poland, mothers who migrate to earn money abroad, are being heavily criticised and their children are being called 'euro-orphans'. We know little about how these family constellations are being perceived by children. What do they think about these family arrangements? Which experiences do they have? And what perceptions of 'good childhood' are the basis for their perception and rating?

Based on a multi-method design, we turn towards these question in a collaborative project with researchers of the University of Wrocław.

Perspectives of Young Vietnamese Germans

Migrants from Vietnam are often characterized as a well-adjusted, educationally successful "model minority" whose offspring achieve high educational qualifications and social advancement despite unfavorable conditions (Hoang 2020). At the same time, the group and its lived experiences are often described as "invisible." This is also reflected in academia, and the few existing studies on young Viet Germans mostly focus on education and educational success. The project "Perspectives of Young Vietnamese Germans" contributes to letting young Vietnamese Germans speak for themselves and to understanding the diversity and complexity of their lived experiences.

The project is embedded in a larger research context on growing up in Asian societies and in Asian communities in Germany. The theoretical starting point is the heuristic concept of generational patterns of solidarity, which - to put it in simplistic terms - are often interdependent in Asian societies and mostly independent in Western societies. The two patterns imply different conceptions of intergenerational relations and mutual expectations and obligations between the age groups and different normative reference points (e.g., "filial piety" in the interdependent model and "good childhood" in the independent model, Bühler-Niederberger 2021).

Transnational Migration Germany - Poland

In the course of the unrestricted movement for workers, the net immigration from Poland to Germany has increased with the current maximum in 2013. This does not only go hand in hand with the creation of a European labour market, but, especially in the course of temporary labour migration, also the creation of transnational family arrangements. It is assumed that one in four young adults between 9 and 18 years of age have experienced one parent working abroad. There is a contrast between the frequency of these solutions and the strong rejection of the same solutions in public: a scandalised and dramatised discourse about violated parental duties and legitimate expectations of children. Especially with the feminisation of migration - pushed by the high demand for care workers in Germany - the transnational family is put under suspicion; children from these families are being slandered as "Euro-orphans". This suggests that the europeanisation, respectively the focus on the Euro, turns these children into "orphans".

This phenomenon is not only highly socially relevant, but also interesting for childhood theories because transnational families put the traditional views on family and the "normative patterns of a good childhood" into question via their transnational actions. The Work Group wants to investigate how socialisation takes place in transnational spaces and how the families handle the non-conformance with the normative idea of a good childhood and good motherhood.

A cooperation with Erasmus allows us to tackle this topic with students from the University of Wrocław. Students who are interested in a stay at the University of Wrocław should contact Alexandra König or Jessica Schwittek for more information.