Travelling Knowledge: The Glocalization of Medical Professional Knowledge and Practice


The project contributes to globalization studies through an empirically grounded theory of the ways in which professional knowledge works across borders. Professions are seen as a third and globalizing form of regulation besides market and state since they govern themselves heterarchically through peer recognition of professional knowledge.

We see medical knowledge both as universalizing through standard diffusion and as a situated response to socio-material problems, or, as Robertson (1992) suggests, as glocalized. Thus, we attempt to overcome clear-cut dichotomies between global and local, between universal and particular in the study of globalization. The empirical study will focus on the treatment of a single cardiological condition in order to connect a macrosocial analysis of standard setting through transnational professional associations with the microsocial observation of situated professional knowledge and practice in treating this disease. By observing the treatment of simulated patients in medical pedagogical settings the project analyzes the ways in which standards inform tacit knowledge in practice. Observations at four university hospitals (Essen, Beijing, Maastricht/NL, Hacettepe/TR) maximize social and geographic distance.

The project delivers foundational research in the sociology of globalization based on a multi-method comparative study. On the basis of multiple embedded comparisons, the project will show whether and to what extent knowledge universalizes through standard diffusion, shared contention and mobility. It also develops a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which professional knowledge remains particular and/or locally bound due to e.g. divergent standards, particular national health systems, epistemic and language communities, and position in migratory networks. Applied results of the project will aid the internationalization of medical education and improve cooperation between physicians in internationalized settings.




Weiß, Anja (2016). „Understanding physicians’ professional knowledge and practice in research on skilled migration.“ Ethnicity & Health 21(4), 397-409.

Weiß, Anja (2018). „Wodurch wird professionelles Wissen transnational anschlussfähig?“ In: Sigrid Quack, Ingo Schulz-Schaeffer, Karen Shire, and Anja Weiß (Hg.). Transnationalisierung der Arbeit. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, S. 129-151.


Prof. Dr. Anja Weiß

Prof. Dr. Tao Liu

Fakultät für Gesellschaftswissenschaften
Institut für Soziologie


Dr. Ilka Sommer
Benedikt Quasinowski
Sarah Weingartz
Dr. med. Stefanie Merse, MME
Prof. Dr. med. Till Neumann
PD Dr. med. Dr. rer. pol. Anja Neumann


Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)


06/2018 – 04/2021

Weitere Projektinformationen