To content
Fakultät Sozialwissenschaften

Admission of Dr. Alina Schmitz to the Scholarship Program for Postdoctoral Researchers and Junior Professors by the Daimler and Benz Foundation

Foto: Portrait Alina Schmitz © Urheberin: Alina Schmitz ​/​ TU Dortmund

We congratulate Dr. Alina Schmitz on this scholarship!

Dr. Alina Schmitz has been accepted into the scholarship program for postdoctoral researchers and junior professors by the Daimler and Benz Foundation to support her habilitation project.

The grant of 40,000 euros will be used, among other things, for a research stay in the USA.

The Project: “Educational mobility in families: Consequences for life courses, family relationships and subjective well-being”

In recent years, there has been a significant expansion in education. More and more people are achieving a higher level of education than their own parents, particularly women and migrants. Unlike the vast majority of previous studies, the project does not focus on the influence of the family on educational opportunities, but rather on the reverse: the influence of educational mobility on family members, specifically on their living conditions, family dynamics, and consequently, subjective well-being.

Most previous studies concentrate on the upwardly mobile individuals, i.e., individuals who achieve a higher level of education than their parents. They show that educational mobility brings along many positive aspects, such as better career opportunities, higher income, and social status. However, first qualitative studies suggest that there are also challenges. The upwardly mobile report experiencing identity crises, estrangement from their original social environment, and even the breakdown of familial relationships. Due to a lack of quantitative studies, however, it remains unclear whether this is a widespread phenomenon.

Even less is known about the parents of the upwardly mobile individuals, i.e., older adults with a low level of education. On the one hand, they could benefit from financial or everyday support from their children. However, opposite effects are also possible if processes of family estrangement prevail.

At the intersection of family sociology, inequality research, and health sociology, the project addresses the following research questions:

  • Does educational mobility lead to family members living in "different worlds" and becoming estranged from each other, or does family cohesion remain strong?
  • Can not only the upwardly mobile individuals benefit from educational mobility and the associated resources but also their parents?
  • Are there aspects of educational mobility that are perceived as burdensome?
  • To what extent do these factors affect subjective well-being? Are there inequalities in these relationships depending on gender and migrant background?