Introducing ... Katarzyna Jendrzey

Foto von Katarzyna Jendrzey während ihres Aufenthaltes in Australien
© Katarzyna Jendrzey

Introducing ... Katarzyna Jendrzey [March 2020]Of research and freedom

In her doctoral project at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Katarzyna Jendrzey is investigating how migration is addressed and perceived in children's books. Since April 2018 she has been researching and doing her doctorate in the Research Group “Sozialisationsforschung” (Faculty of Educational Sciences). Now the social scientist is in Australia for four months to improve her language skills. Afterwards she will travel to the ISA Conference in Brazil in summer and will present her first paper there.

After completing her master's degree at the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Katarzyna Jendrzey first had to orientate herself in the academic field as a research assistant: "I had to develop a habitus as a researcher and relinquish some control." Today she sees these experiences as a great benefit. In the field of tension between uncertainty and planning, she has since consciously tried to give preference to scientific curiosity and passion: "I knock on many doors and see what happens."

Since 2012, the native Polish has been living in Wuppertal. After completing her bachelor's degree in media education at the University of Opole, the then 22-year-old decided to go to Germany to study for a master's degree. Within eight months, she acquired the German language in self-financed language courses – up to native language level. "In the beginning I couldn't speak a word, but today I'm in love with the German language," she says and laughs. In the winter semester of 2013/2014, she was admitted to the course of study "Youth in Theory and Practice of Social Work" at the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts. In order to finance her studies, she completed it while working and gained experience as a social worker at various educational institutions in Essen and Wuppertal. "Through this, I gained a deeper understanding of the German social system."

Jendrzey soon realised that she wanted to do scientific work and research after her studies. In 2018, she applied for a parental leave position in the working group “Sozialisationsforschung” (Faculty of Educational Sciences) at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Since then, she has been researching socialisation processes, especially in the transnational space. In her doctoral project, she is investigating representations of migration in children's books and their reception in comparison between Germany and Poland. This question is embedded in childhood research, the question of growing up under different conditions and the analysis of migration concepts and perceptions.

Within academia, Katarzyna Jendrzey particularly appreciates the liveliness, the new connections that result from her research work and the many options that her scientific employment offers her. For example, she makes targeted use of existing funding opportunities to gain international experience. With the ERASMUS+ programme she went to Poland for a scientific exchange and a PROMOS grant enabled her to attend a five-week language course at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia.

Jendrzey also attaches great importance to teaching: "Before my first seminar I had great respect for the responsibility I have as a teacher". In the meantime, she has grown into this role and actively encourages her students to view and investigate social phenomena from different perspectives. "I particularly enjoy observing everyday situations and analysing them with scientific tools in order to understand them." She would like to sensitize her students to the fact that subjective perception is influenced by many different factors: "Depending on which 'glasses' you use to observe a situation, you see something different."

But there is one thing that bothers Jendrzey about the current academic system: "In science communication, there is currently too much focus on self-marketing, by which I mean a focus on the person.” She would like to see a stronger focus on the content of the work of researchers, on the persuasiveness of their research: "My work should speak for me." The ISA (International Sociological Association) conference in Brazil, where she will present her first paper in summer 2020, offers her the opportunity to do so.

But first Katarzyna Jendrzey will go to Australia for a four-month language course. Also, she hopes to gain insights into Australian migration policy and childhood research on site through an internship. Her tip for future doctoral researchers: "Personal interest in the topic is most important. And it is important to react flexibly to changes." For early career researchers, the academic system often holds uncertainties and fixed-term employment contracts. But Katarzyna Jendrzey has decided to see this also as an opportunity: "At the moment I cannot imagine working in any other field. I am very lucky to be able to pursue my passions and interests through scientific work."

The interview for this article was conducted in February 2020.