Virtual Warm-Up Event

Virtual Warm-Up Event

Welcome to our virtual warm-up event to the summer school 'Making Theory Work' in 2021! Below you can find videos of the workshop organizers as well as our, the organizers, video introducing the summer school theme and elaborating on what we mean by 'making theory work'. On 30.09., 10am CET, the videos will be followed by a live online discussion which will foreshadow the summer school and also instill an exchange that can be continued in person in 2021. We invite all of you cordially to our virtual event. We hope our event brings together summer school lectures, admitted participants, and further potential participants! To join the discussion, follow the link:

Introduction by the organizers

Please find the slides of the presentation by the organizers here.



Monika Krause: Theorizing as conceptual innovation

Sina Farzin: Theorizing through fiction

Sociology and fiction are entangled in a number of ways, particularly in the field of social theory, where artistic imagination is used to initiate and enable theoretical creativity and undercut the binary logic of "theory" vs. "empirical data". Also, the original connection between sociology and literature developed into a broader field of entanglements between social science and other narrative artistic genres like film or tv-series. Social theorists such as Axel Honneth, Eva Illouz or Zygmunt Baumann regularly draw on novels to inquire recent relations between individual subjects and society. In our session we discuss different uses of fiction in contemporary social theory and places them within the broader debate about methods of theorizing that Richard Swedberg, Andrew Abbott and others have initiated in recent years. If you use (or plan to use) narrative artistic artefacts in your own research, we can discuss possible strategies and hopeful outcomes but also pitfalls and epistemic challenges you must consider.


Rainer Diaz-Bone: Methodological practices as integration of theory, research interest and method

Empirical social research is realizing theory by methodological practices. The workshop will introduce in neopragmatist and neostructuralist ways of working with theory, and will discuss methodology as the core field for linking theory and methods, and an important competence for "translating" theory into "results". This translation is a complex procedure. The workshop will address methodological practices as developing the research interest/question, realizing empirical phenomena, embedding methods in a methodological culture, mobilization of evidence and explanations, justifying the quality of research, bringing in and reflecting epistemological values and – last but not least – writing culture.

Ariane Berthoin Antal: Revealing implicit theories

The purpose of this workshop is to enable participants to become aware of the power of implicit theories. We tend to position theories as outcomes of solid academic work that we need to learn in order to frame our research and interpret our data. As a result, we overlook the theories we are unaware of holding already. The implicit theories we have range from broad themes (“how the world works”) to more specific topics like leadership and creativity. They matter because they influence the factors we consider relevant (and thereby mask other factors) as well as the conceivable approaches to address the issues (or not). This workshop will explore implicit theories the participants hold about selected topics as well as those relating specifically to their research projects.


Markus Lörz: Rational-Choice-Approach in higher education: Theory, operationalisation and empirical results

Rational choice theory (RCT) is often applied in quantitative empirical research. Although RCT certainly has its limits, it has already produced many important findings in research on higher education and social inequality. This session focuses on several research fields in higher education where RCT may be applied as well as which benefits and limits RCT has. In the workshop, the theoretical basics of RCT are discussed and applied to your own research question. From an RCT perspective, the participants develop a theoretical framework of their research question and derive several testable hypotheses.

Richard Watermeyer: Future imaginaries of the public university

In this session participants will attempt alternative and ostensibly more progressive theorizations of the university and of academics in the milieu of profound global societal transformation and the fallibility of both in the mediation of such. Participants will be encouraged to play with creative and critical future imaginaries of the university as a public institution, so as to escape the impasse of its standard neoliberal critique and enable transition from the torpor of its existential crisis towards more agentic ontologies. A commitment to being theoretically disruptive and even transgressive will be root to such 'unmaking' and 'remaking' and in challenging the cultural hegemony of economic determinism and technocratic rationality as organizing principles of academic life. Workshop participants will thus be challenged to act as bricoleurs 'trying-on' through dialogue a variety of what may be sometimes complementary and sometimes competing theoretical positions - drawn from their own readings and others to be introduced - in attending to a radical if imperfect yet no less necessarily evolving (re)imagining of the university and academic life.