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Fakultät Sozialwissenschaften

PhD Research Projects

Ongoing Doctoral Dissertations


In 2022, around 19.3 million women in Germany (Bundesagentur für Arbeit 2023a) had already had the experience of having to deal with their menstruation as a problem to be managed in the workplace. Women have to situate themselves and their physicality in a working environment historically shaped by androcentric structures (Kurz-Scherf 2013) construing the female body as deviation or anomaly (Beck et al. 2023). Therefore, women often experience disadvantages and discrimination, particularly due to their physical and physiological characteristics associated with the ability of childbearing (Kordsmeyer et al. 2022). Nevertheless, menstruation has so far been examined in German-language research primarily from a medical and cultural-historical perspective as well as in the context of critical menstruation research (Bauer 2022); gender and, above all, labour sociological references are rather rare. In my thesis, I therefore use the example of menstruation to explore the question of how gender-specific health requirements are negotiated with in the workplace. On a general level, I ask 1) to what extent women's reproductive capacity is still seen as a risk for their integration into the world of work and to what extent menstruating women and their bodies are discriminated against in today's world of work. On the micro level of the subject and their experience I ask 2) how the tabooing of menstruation affects female employees, how menstruating women deal with their menstruation in the workplace under these conditions, and which practices and coping strategies are used to establish the ability to work and to make menstruation invisible. On an organisational level, I then ask 3) which mechanisms lead to the (in)visibility of the topic and which tabooing processes can be identified (by whom). Following Gugutzer (2022), Douglas (1985), and Buckley (1988), body-sociological reflexions on menstruation and cultural anthropological considerations of menstruation, especially in connection with shame and/or tabooing, are first considered. This is followed by a subsumption of the above-mentioned questions in gender-sociological health and labour research and women's health research. Methodologically, case studies are conducted in 4-5 organisations, consisting of problem-centred biographical interviews with menstruating women (Witzel 2000), in-house expert interviews with (male) supervisors and workforce representation including narrative elements (Lamnek und Krell 2016) as well as group discussions. The interviews will be analysed using qualitative-interpretative methods (Przyborski 2021; Lamnek und Krell 2016; Kleemann 2013) of social research. The results should contribute to breaking down taboos surrounding menstruation, shaping workplaces in a more gender-equitable way and giving people who menstruate more room for manoeuvre in dealing with their menstruation. The project is also expected to provide information on how the world of work and occupational health and safety can be organised in a gender-sensitive way. The above-mentioned research gaps in gender and labour sociology are also to be closed.

Christine Best works as a Research Associate at the Social Research Centre Dortmund (TU Dortmund University, Faculty of Social Sciences) in the research area "Work, Organisation, Gender".

First supervisor: Prof. Dr. Mona Motakef, TU Dortmund University

Second supervisor: N.N.


Christine Best, Sozialforschungsstelle Dortmund, Evinger Platz 17, 44339 Dortmund.

Email: christine.besttu-dortmundde


Social recognition is a key concept in social theories that negotiate the relation between justice and society. For the individual, recognition is elementary in order to build a positive self-relationship, and for groups, recognition is important in order to ensure a minimum level of peacefulness. My research project examines experiences of recognition and the resulting attitudes towards one's own recognition behavior using the example of young female football players in Germany and Poland. They all have in common their choice of team sport and the high time commitment to football, their age and the associated challenges and developmental tasks in adolescence, as well as their gender. However, the orders of recognition in which girls' and women's football is embedded in the two countries differ. Embedded in the research style of grounded theory, qualitative problem-centered guided interviews are used to investigate which recognition experiences shape the players, which forms and sources of recognition are relevant to them, and what influence the experienced recognition, or lack of recognition, has on their actions.

Marij Duhra works for the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Football Association and is responsible for social issues, incidents of violence, as well as their prevention. 

First supervisor: Prof. Dr. Mona Motakef                                                                     Second supervisor: N.N.


Social Responsibility LFVMV-V, Kopernikusstraße 17a, 18057 Rostock

Email: marijduhrade


The social discourse on homosexuality and bisexuality has changed remarkably in Germany over the last 50 years, leading to increasing social acceptance and legal equality. However, it is questionable how much this benefits older homosexual and bisexual people with support needs. They were socialised in a time of pathologisation and legal sanctioning of same-sex desire and the resulting discrimination could potentially affect all areas of life. Since available social and economic resources in old age do highly depend on earlier living conditions, inequality at the expense of older homosexual and bisexual people with support needs can be assumed here.

This is where the doctoral project comes in, in which the life situation of this group of people is analysed and compared with heterosexual people. Methodologically, quantitative approaches are combined with qualitative methods. Firstly, the two groups will be compared in quantitative studies with regard to their available socio-economic and social resources and their association with life satisfaction using data from the German Ageing Survey (DEAS). Subsequently, semi-structured narrative interviews will be conducted and interpreted to reconstruct the subjectively relevant aspects of the interviewees' lives with support needs, including in particular the biographical perspective. This mixed-methods approach enables the results to be presented in a broader context. Thus, the results of the secondary data analysis can be additionally enriched by the qualitative interview findings and viewed from a life course perspective.

In addition to gaining knowledge on the topic, a critical examination of the concept of the life course perspective is also a central component of this project. Hence, existing approaches are critically examined for their suitability for older homosexual and bisexual people and suggestions are made for a theoretical modification.

Robert Heidemann works as a research assistant at the Chair of Social Structure and Sociology of Ageing Societies.

Advisors: Prof. Dr. Martina Brandt; Prof. Dr. Mona Motakef


Email: robert.heidemanntu-dortmundde


Under the banner of promoting equality and reducing long-term unemployment as well as alleviating the need for skilled workers, German job centers have found themselves increasingly confronted with the task of activating parents, predominantly mothers (over 90 percent), at an early stage of parenting. More specifically, this concerns mothers with young children under the age of three who are receiving basic benefits (SGB II). According to Paragraph 10, Section 1, Sentence 3 of the German Social Code II, it is not obligatory for a parent to take up work during the first three years of a child's life if this would pose risks for the child's upbringing - e.g., if there is no daycare available. However, according to legislation, this exemption period shall be used to identify and utilize existing potentials for labor market integration of the parent. During this period, the job center workers are supposed to activate skilled workers, and people without school or vocational qualifications should use this time to get training. At the same time, activating the parents of young children in benefit recipiency may undermine the social protection of parenting. This can be interpreted as a step of commodification of this phase of life, which has been under protection by the German welfare state, a step which fits into the picture of a market liberal/neoliberal policy (see Lessenich 2009; Dörre et al. 2013). In my dissertation, I will focus on the increased "activation efforts" on mothers of young children in benefit recipiency from a perspective of gender-sociological precarization research (Castel/Dörre 2009; Völker/Amacker 2015; Motakef/Wimbauer 2020). Given this background, I will pursue the question of which practices, attitudes, and positions the prevailing dogma of work in society (specifically, in the Federal Employment Agency) produces among those "involved in activation" (job center clients and job center employees) and, in turn, to what extent these shape "activation practices." With the help of a Grounded Theory methodology (Clarke 2005), which has been extended to include situational analysis, I plan to create an approach to this field as well as an overview of the practice of activation. The qualitative study focuses primarily on interviews and ethnographic field data. There will be a a special focus on the discrepancies and negotiations between the meanings and significance of motherhood and gainful employment in the context of receiving social benefits. The data for the study will be collected under the direction of Prof. Dr. Markus Promberger within the IAB project ‚Frühzeitige Aktivierung in Bedarfsgemeinschaften mit Kindern bis zu drei Jahren‘, running from 2021-2024 under funding by the German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

Elena Höpfner is a research associate in Research Department Joblessness and Social Inclusion (ET)

First supervisor: Prof. Dr. Mona Motakef, TU Dortmund

Second supervisor: Prof. Markus Promberger, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU)


Elena Höpfner, IAB Nürnberg, Regensburger Straße 100, 90478 Nürnberg

Email: Elena.hoepfneriabde


My PhD project examines the relationship between shame, shaming, sexuality and violence from a gender and power critical perspective. For this purpose, I combine discourse theory, sociology of affects, and feminist materialism. In terms of social theory, I ask how discourses on shame structure the un-speakable, i.e. how they regulate and govern the effects of shame which stabilize a system of sexual-sexualized violence. Furthermore, I examine whether the processing of shame, for instance by transforming it into pride, holds emancipatory potential or rather is embedded in dominant discourses of affect control. The affect-sociological approach to shame and the praxeological analysis of shaming practices soften the often-criticized dichotomy between survivors and perpetrators. Instead, it attempts to focus on shame, processing of shame, or shaming practices of all those involved, while accounting for their fundamentally different positions and experiences. My empirical data is based on the legal changes in German sexual criminal law in 1997 (›rape in marriage‹) and 2016 (›no means no‹), and consists largely of visual campaign material against sexualized violence. Following Adele E. Clarke's (2012) Situational Analysis of discourses, other discourse data such as parliamentary debates, media and fictional adaptations are also included in the data corpus. Methodologically, I combine Situational Analysis (mainly Clarke, Friese, Washburn 2018) and Image Analysis (mainly Breckner 2010, 2012, 2018).

Lilian Hümmler works as a research assistant at the Institute for Sociology with a focus on Women's and Gender Studies ( Sarah Speck) at the Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main.

First supervisor: Elisabeth Tuider, University of Kassel

Second supervisor: Prof. Dr. Mona Motakef, TU Dortmund University


Lilian Hümmler, Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main, Institute for Sociology, HPF 55, 60629 Frankfurt am Main

Email: lilian.huemmlersoz.uni-frankfurtde


This dissertation project examines the formation and negotiation of family in the context of 'elective co-parenting.' Elective co-parenting, characterized by parents deliberately opting out of romantic partnerships and instead forging parenthood within the framework of a defined division of labor or friendship, serves as a focal point for examining evolving social norms and family constructs. This form of co-parenting is understood as an expression of social transformation processes which, while not (yet) particularly significant in quantitative terms, can provide valuable insights into the future of family forms.

The project uses qualitative methods of empirical social research to explore the inner life of these hitherto underexplored constellations of 'doing family'. Through in-depth narrative interviews with co-parents and their children, the project unravels the intricacies of family formation within the context of established norms, legal frameworks, and day-to-day practices. The aim is to understand how co-parenting families perceive themselves, how they address 'transformation', and what needs they articulate to policymakers, particularly regarding housing, urban, family, and educational policies as well as family law in Bavaria. The analysis also includes an examination of intersectional inequalities within the framework of class, gender, and region. In addition, expert interviews are conducted to investigate how co-parenting families are perceived by family-related organizations such as childcare facilities, schools and youth welfare services.

Marlene Resch works as a Research Associate at the Institute of Sociology at Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, Department of Sociology & Gender Studies (Prof. Dr. Paula-Irene Villa Braslavsky).

First Advisor: Prof. Dr. Paula-Irene Villa Braslavsky, LMU Munich

Second Advisor: Prof. Dr. Mona Motakef, TU Dortmund


Email: m.reschsoziologie.uni-muenchende


Domestic workers who clean, wash and cook in private households in Germany are predominantly working undeclared. These unprotected employment relationships do not provide them with social security - and therefore no pension insurance entitlements - that recognize their work and protect them in old age. This gap in old-age security is repeatedly emphasized in research on domestic work as a long-term consequence. But no research has yet investigated how domestic workers age in their precarious living arrangements and how they perceive this. In my doctoral project, I therefore ask,

(1) whether and how precarious living situations of domestic workers change with age,

(2) how domestic workers experience and shape their ageing in the context of employment, transition to retirement and/or retirement and

(3) what subjective meaning they attach to exit from employment and retirement.

To achieve this, I combine reflexive transition research (Stauber et al. 2022, Walther et al. 2020) based on life course theory (Elder 1985) with gender-sociological precarization theory (Castel/Dörre 2009, Klenner et al. 2012, Motakef and Wimbauer 2020). To achieve this, I combine reflexive transition research (Stauber et al. 2022, Walther et al. 2020) based on life course theory (Elder 1985) with gender-sociological precarization theory (Castel/Dörre 2009, Klenner et al. 2012, Motakef and Wimbauer 2020). This perspective makes it possible to understand the meaning as well as the social practice of (not) transitioning from employment to retirement in the context of precarious life arrangements. Biographical, photo-elicited (Clark-Ibáñez 2004) interviews with active and former, irregularly employed domestic workers in and around retirement age form the empirical basis of the study. To evaluate the interviews, I follow an interpretative analysis strategy based on the hermeneutical sociology of knowledge (Hitzler et al. 2020; Reichertz 2007).

Supervisors:  Prof. Dr. Mona Motakef, Prof. Dr. Nicole Burzan


Email: luzia.schmittmanntu-dortmundde


My doctoral project examines how age(ing) and bisexuality (re-)produce inequalities in the life course, how they are co-constituted in different contexts, and chances of socially just ageing for bisexual people. In their interaction, age and (bi-)sexuality as categories of difference are often permeated with chrononormative, heteronormative and/or monosexual assumptions which can have an impact on and thus shape life courses. For example, chrononormativity locates age(ing) and age-coded practices in a temporal, mostly heteronormative organizational frame, which often overlooks the lived experiences of LGBTIQ* people and therefore can misjudge inequality-generating moments in their life course. Simultaneously, monosexuality leads to invisibilities of bisexuality as a desire for more than one gender (bi-erasure). As of yet, comparatively little is known about the entanglement of age(ing) and bisexuality and how their intersection is linked to the (re-)production of inequalities. Given this background, I firstly explore the question of how and where age(ing) and bisexuality become (ir-)relevant and secondly how and where they are produced or prevented as categories over the life course of older bisexual people. Following neomaterialist, posthumanist and material gerontological approaches, I focus on how age(ing) and bisexuality as relational configurations (assemblages) are characterised by situated practices of constitution and boundary-making. Human and more-than-human actors (e.g., bodies, spaces, materialities, institutions and related discourses) are thereby brought into focus. Taking into account neomaterialist methodological approaches, two qualitative data analysis methods are combined using semi-structured autobiographical narrative interviews following Schütze (1983) and photo-elicitation interviews (Clark-Ibañez 2004), which I analyse with Clarke's (2013) situational analysis.

Hanna Wilmes is a scholarship holder in the Hans-Böckler-Foundation's doctoral programme "New Challenges in Aging Societies" (PK 055).

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Mona Motakef, Prof. Dr. Angelika Poferl


Email: hanna.wilmestu-dortmundde

Completed Doctoral Dissertations


The recognition of same-sex relationships and non-normative families, coupled with greater access to reproductive technologies, has increased over the past two decades. Surrogacy presents a viable route for gay couples towards parenthood, yet it is banned in many countries. Research shows that gay couples circumvent national legal restrictions by accessing reproductive services abroad. In doing so, they must navigate the specific legal, political, and sociocultural contexts of both their country of residence and the country of destination. Previous research has not conducted a cross-country comparison addressing how such different contexts shape the reproductive practices of gay couples. In my presentation, I compare Germany and Israel, where gay couples face starkly different challenges: Germany prohibits surrogacy in general, while Israel allows it— but not for gay men. Drawing on interviews with couples from both countries, all of whom contracted a surrogate in the US, I analyze the couples’ struggles for legal recognition and social visibility as gay father families. In both countries, the couples handle the legal, political, and sociocultural contexts differently in a process that I frame as becoming a gay father family, which involves concealing the surrogacy and appropriating heteronormative family narratives.

Julia Teschlade ist wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin im DFG-Projekt "Ambivalente Anerkennungsordnung: Doing reproduction and doing family jenseits der heterosexuellen Normalfamilie, Projektleitung: Prof. Mona Motakef, Prof. Dr. Almut Peukert, Prof. Dr. Christine Wimbauer

Erstgutachterin: Prof. Christine Wimbauer, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Zweitgutachterin: Prof. Mona Motakef, TU Dortmund

Disputation: 19.01.2021


Julia Teschlade, Universität Hamburg, Fakultät für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften Sozialökonomie Soziologie, Welckerstraße 8, 20354 Hamburg



The aim of this thesis is to analyze the discursive gender order in the field of indie rock. Due to their anchoring in everyday life, musical popular cultures are considered particularly significant for the negotiation and transformation of gender discourses. This paper focuses on the research field of indie rock, as it has received little attention in scholarly discussions of music and gender.

Theoretically, my investigation is framed by the model of ‚hegemonic masculinity‘ conceptualized by Raewyn Connell and further developed by Michael Meuser. I transfer Meuser's considerations to discourse level and argue that ‚hegemonic masculinity‘ also functions here as an ideal-typical orientation pattern. In this context, I focus on two different modes and ask whether the symbolic-cultural gender order in indie rock is established via egalitarian modes of construction or whether the hegemonic mode continues to dominate. In doing so, I am particularly interested in those gender constructions that cannot be clearly categorized as hierarchizing or egalitarian mode, but can be interpreted as ambivalent, since both modes come into play at the same time.

Methodologically, the analysis is framed by the knowledge-sociological discourse analysis developed by Reiner Keller. The project focuses on the analysis of patterns of meaning and the narrative structures in which they are embedded. Methodologically, I examine discourse through the analysis of relevant music journals. For practical research reasons, materials on a limited number of bands are analyzed. Time-wise, the thesis examines discourses between 2001 and 2014.

I will show that authenticity is the central pattern of meaning of the symbolic-cultural gender order, through which recognition or devaluation is attributed. I will discuss this by looking at the different discursive dimensions of the authentic (honesty, independence, control) and the various subjects (vocals, fans, producer, drums and division of labor within the band).


First supervisor: Prof. Paula-Irene Villa Braslavsky, LMU München

Second supervisor: Prof. Mona Motakef, TU Dortmund

Defense: 22.02.2024



Mit der Umgestaltung des Elternzeitgesetzes und der Einführung des Elterngeldes im Jahr 2007 wächst die Zahl elternzeitnehmender Väter in Deutschland stetig. Wandlungsprozesse des Familienernährer- und Zuverdienerinnen-Modells lassen das Elternzeit- und Vereinbarkeitsmanagement zunehmend als Aushandlungsprozess von Eltern erscheinen. Doch wie wirken sich historisch und kulturell institutionalisierte Geschlechtervorstellungen und das ungleichheitsrelevante „asymmetrisches Anerkennungsverhältnis“ der Familien und Erwerbssphäre auf die Aushandlungsprozesse aus? Welche Muster intersubjektiver
(Nicht-)Anerkennung von Familien- und Erwerbsarbeit können im Kontext väterlicher Elternzeitnahme im Paar zum Vorschein kommen? Die Dissertation verortet sich in einer subjektorientierten, sinnrekonstruktiven Perspektive. Sie analysiert sechs narrative Interviews mit Paaren, bei denen der Vater Elternzeit nimmt, anhand der Dokumentarischen Methode in einer komparativen Sequenzanalyse unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Diskursorganisation.
Die Daten wurden im Projekt „Väter in Elternzeit – Aushandlungs- und Entscheidungsprozesse zwischen Paarbeziehung und Betrieb“ erhoben. Methodischer Beitrag der Arbeit ist die Diskussion und Erweiterung der Dokumentarischen Methode um das Erhebungsinstrument des Paarinterviews. Die Dissertation wendet Honneths Anerkennungstheorie aus einer ungleichheits- und geschlechtersoziologischen Perspektive auf das empirische Material an. Sie nimmt daneben eine kritische Diskussion von Ansätzen aus der Väterforschung vor, die eine mögliche Aberkennung familienorientierter Väterlichkeit (z.B. durch die Partnerin oder in sozialen Kontexten) in den Blick nehmen und verweist auf die ungleiche Anerkennungsrelevanz sowie auf die Berücksichtigung paarinterner Aushandlungen.
Untersucht werden die Vereinbarkeits- und Elternzeitarrangements, konsensuelle und nicht konsensuelle (Be-)Deutungen des Elternzeitarrangements, Anerkennung(srelevanz) von Familien- und Erwerbsarbeit, paarinterne Anerkennung sowie die Anerkennung von Elternsein, z.T. auch in sozialen Kontexten. Wesentliches Ergebnis ist, dass Familienarbeit in ihrer Anerkennungsrelevanz hinter Erwerbsarbeit steht, eine geringere Quelle von Anerkennung darstellt, geschlechterdifferenzierend oder auch per se unsichtbar sein kann und oftmals weiterhin weiblich konnotiert ist. Auch wenn Hinweise auf sich egalisierende Anerkennungsverhältnisse zu finden sind, weicht keines der Paare durchweg vom „asymmetrischen Anerkennungsverhältnis“ ab. Beruf und Erwerbsarbeit sind die zentralen Quellen von Anerkennung und meist ausschlaggebend für die Elternzeitarrangements. Familienarbeit ist im Gegenzug keine oder nur eine äquivalente Anerkennungsquelle, sofern beides zur Verfügung steht. Die geschlechterdifferenzierende Aufteilung und ungleiche Bewertung von Erwerbs- und Familienarbeit ändert sich nicht zwangsläufig durch die väterliche Elternzeitnahme. Vielmehr integrieren Paare, die ohnehin egalitäre Vorstellungen haben, die Elternzeit in ein egalitär ausgerichtetes Paararrangement. Traditionelle Geschlechterbilder wirken
auch weiterhin in Paararrangements sowie in betrieblichen und sozialen Kontexten.

Stefanie Aunkofer ist wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin im Gleichstellungsbüro der Hochschule Rhein-Waal

Erstgutachterin: Prof. Christine Wimbauer, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Zweitgutachterin: Prof. Mona Motakef, TU Dortmund

Disputation: 22.10.2021


Stefanie Aunkofer, Gleichstellungsbüro Hochschule Rhein-Waal, Marie-Curie-Straße 1, 47533 Kleve