DEUTSCH / ENGLISH
I study the causes and effects of social inequality in postindustrial societies from a comparative perspective that exploits differences among stratification systems. Employing quantitative analysis and social class schemes for the description of contemporary and past inequality, I research social mobility to describe the role of inequality during childhood for educational attainment and occupational positioning later in life. Besides studying how inequality is reproduced over generations, recently I began to analyze the impact of inequality on political orientation. While the former research addresses institutional processes regulating the mobility of the middle classes, the latter addresses important sociopolitical changes in times of increasing inequality.
After studying Sociology, Politics, and Economics at the Freie Universität Berlin (FU) and the University of Glasgow, I completed my Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Bremen researching intergenerational class mobility over the 20th century in the US and Germany. Following the Ph.D. I was a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute (EUI), Florence, Italy. Since my return, I have been working at the Department of Socioeconomics at the University of Hamburg and was visiting Professor of Sociology at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Since April 2021, I am principal investigator in a junior research group funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The group studies the role of admission systems for the reproduction of social inequality in higher education decision-making.
Social inequality, structural change and stratification
Comparative inequality research
Inequality in higher education
Inequality and political participation
- Institutional Barriers and Inequality in Higher Education
Only recently, inequality in admission to higher education became subject of sociological interest. Universities use admission tests to regulate access to study courses effectively becoming the gatekeeper to middle class positions. While American research pointed out that increasing competition can advantage aspiring students from privileged backgrounds, little is known about the role of admission tests in creating inequality in access to university or choice of field of study in Germany. Generally, universities erect admission testing in Germany if demand outpaces supply for a specific field of study. Additionally, access to selected fields of studies (veterinary and human medicine, dentistry and pharmacy) are centrally regulated by a state agency (Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung formerly known as ZVS). Either the type of admission testing or the shifting level of required grades might influence social inequality in admission by selecting on capacities that are more common among students from better-off families or indirectly through informing parenting styles years ahead of the actual point of admissions. This research tries to overcome the theoretical, methodological and empirical gap in inequality in higher education research by explaining the role admission testing plays in recreating inequality in Germany. It also aims at providing policy makers with knowledge about the degree to which different admission systems cause varying levels of diversity among students and develop best practice models to regulate access effectively and allow for higher levels of diversity.
- New Classes and Mobility
The Research connects the study of occupational change with the research on social mobility. At least two hypotheses relating societal change to inequality have been formulated in each research tradition. First, the skill-biased technological change hypothesis suggests that the surge in educational attainment and ongoing automation and computerization results in an upgrading of the occupational structure that leads to an increasing demand in high-skilled non-manual jobs and a continuous decline in routine occupations. Similarly, industrialization theory suggested that the upgrading of occupational structures would result in increasing social fluidity due to increasingly meritocratic recruitment and the substitution of white collar occupations for traditional working class jobs. Second, the routinization hypothesis suggests that technological change is task biased to the extent that only those low skilled jobs vanish which can be easily substituted through the investment into new technology. Consequently, routinization could result in a simple shift from low-grade routine occupations, e.g. clerks and machine operators, to low-grade non-routine occupations in interpersonal work environments, e.g. cleaner, personal care aides or security personal. If social fluidity is similar between old and new low-grade jobs, routinization could effectively counteract fluidity increasing societal change. In the latter case, substantial horizontal social mobility could occur between industrial and interpersonal occupations, without any vertical change. Hence, the generally preferred “constant fluidity” hypothesis could in spite of massive occupational change remain valid. On the contrary, however, the expansion of highly skilled occupations could theoretically result in a u-shaped occupational distribution, hence polarization. The latter is true especially if emerging or expanding low-grade classes are populated by outsider positions within the secondary labor market segment. If institutions which disadvantage inter-segment mobility also affect vertical social mobility chances, a decrease of social fluidity would become possible.
- Social Mobility and Stratification
with OLAF GROH-SAMBERG
The project aims at broadening our understanding regarding the relationship between stratification and social mobility. For the present purpose, we define social mobility as the intergenerational movement between parental and individual social positions. While the dominant tradition of mobility research states that country differences in social mobility are either minor and mostly unsystematic or uninteresting, newer research suggests that social mobility varies in systematic ways across countries. Exploiting cross-country variation, we ask to what extent mobility differs between countries that differ in terms of inequality in several different dimensions. Initially, we single out four dimensions, i.e. education, earnings, incomes and occupations, in which stratification arguably affect social mobility processes mainly by stratifying experienced opportunity structures. We then propose several indicators to map the stratification in these dimensions – e.g. GINI, P90/p10 ratios, differential returns to education – and study the extent to which social mobility varies with the degree and type of inequality. Finally, we study the multivariate relationship between levels of inequality and (absolute and relative) social mobility to understand the relative importance of each inequality dimension. Empirically, we employ cross-sectional data from the EU-SILC, EVS, ESS, Eurobarometer, ISJP and the ISSP (and if time allows we will include comparable U.S. data).
- Social Mobility in the United States
with FABIAN T. PFEFFER
This project aims to compare the role of education for social mobility across U.S. states. We propose to use GSS data to estimate the shape and degree of social inequality in educational opportunity, returns to education, and occupational mobility rates for each U.S. state with sufficient numbers of observation. The specific aims of this research project are (1) to relate cross-state differences in social inequality in educational opportunity to differences in the demographic makeup of states as well as differences in state educational and social policies; (2) to investigate the relationship between cross-state differences in social inequalities in educational opportunity and social mobility; (3) to assess the mediating role of education for social mobility processes in each state.
- Right voting in times of material inequality and mass migration in Germany
with FREDERIKE ESCHE
Capitalizing on recent immigration, the AfD, the most recent political reincarnation of Germany’s ultra-right, successfully made inroads in German state elections sending members to 10 of the 16 state parliaments. At the same time, PEGIDA, an association that organizes regular anti-immigrant demonstrations in Dresden since fall 2014, has been the most successful right social movement since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany. Reliable evidence about the characteristics of individuals to vote for or identify as extreme right is however scant. This project aims at understanding the factors that drive right wing party identification. It compares the influence of subjective and objective characteristics and studies the effect of changing attributes on party identification. It rests on empirical analyses of the socio-demographics of extreme right party identification in Germany since 1990. Employing data from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), we study the objective (demographic, socio-economic) and subjective (well-being, emotions, attitudes and fears) attributes characterizing Germans that switch to right-party identification. Additionally, we ask whether right-wing identification is also the result of intergenerational and intragenerational social mobility as suggested by several recent publications like, e.g., Die Abstiegsgesellschaft or Returning to Reims and contrasts these accounts with the traditionally employed authoritarianism hypothesis.
- Determinants of Perceived Social Conflicts
with NADINE M. SCHÖNECK
Socioeconomic inequality and conflicts regarding distributional issues have resurfaced in many OECD countries over the past two decades. While most research has focused on objective determinants of perceived social conflict, we contribute a new facet to that discussion by assessing the relevance of collective stratification beliefs as an independent predictor of conflict perceptions. After formulating theoretical positions that give precedence to two factors in explaining perceptions of social conflicts – objective inequality and the collective subjective awareness thereof –, we use individual-level data from the 2009 International Social Survey Programme as well as suitable country-level indicators and empirically test both hypotheses. We take the results of these tests to judge the mediating effect that an aggregated egalitarian (middle-)class imagery has on the relationship between objective inequality and perceived social conflicts (measured through an additive scale). The results of our multilevel analyses of 27 OECD countries indicate that an egalitarian (middle-)class image hold by a certain share of a country’s population constitutes a distinct dimension of reality and clearly dominates country-level objective inequality in the explanation of individually perceived social conflict.
- Educational Inequality and Structural Change
with FABRIZIO BERNARDI and GORDEY YASTREBOV
We study the evolution of intergenerational transmission of college attainment in the United States over the 20th century. For this purpose, we expand the Breen-Goldthorpe model of educational investment behavior in order to show formally how the dynamics of inequality in college attainment are related to the change in economic resource inequality and costs of college education over time. In our empirical analysis we use five different national representative surveys and focus on the chances of college attainment by parental education for birth cohorts from 1900 to 1987. Our results confirm that relative inequality in college attainment, measured in terms of odds ratios, declined over most of the 20th century with equalization leveling off beginning with birth cohorts in the 1950s. At the same time, the absolute differences in the percentage of graduates among children of college-educated parents and children of non-graduates have remained remarkably stable across the century. Based on our formal model, we also explore future scenarios for the trends in college attainment inequality. Under the assumption of stagnating college attainment and persisting patterns of economic inequality, our simulation predicts a rise in relative inequality in college attainment by parental education, revealing a possible U-shape trend in the near future.
- In preparation
Hertel, Florian R. & Groh-Samberg, Olaf
Changing Tides – The impact of rising inequality on social mobility in the US.
Breznau, Nate & Hertel, Florian R.
Social States and Income Inequality: How Neoliberal Ideals fail Social Mobility.
Hertel, Florian R. & Esche, Frederike
Arbeitsmarktkonkurrenz, Migration und der Erfolg rechter Parteien in Deutschland.
Staab, Philipp S. & Hertel, Florian R., 2020
Ungleichheit im Dienstleistungssektor. WSI-Mitteilungen 03/2020 Schwerpunktheft.
Hertel, Florian R., 2017
Social Mobility in the 20th Century.
Class Mobility and occupational Change in the United States and Germany.
Wiesbaden: Springer VS
- Peer-Reviewed Articles
Hertel, Florian R., 2020
Sozialstrukturelle Veränderungen und Ungleichheit in der deutschen Klassengesellschaft.
WSI-Mitteilungen, 73(3), S. 155-164.
Hertel, Florian R. & Groh-Samberg, Olaf, 2019
The Relation between Inequality and Intergenerational Class Mobility in 39 Countries.
American Sociological Review, 84(6), S. 1099 -1133.
Hertel, Florian R. & Schöneck-Voß, Nadine, 2019
Conflict perceptions across 27 OECD countries: The roles of socioeconomic inequality and collective stratification beliefs.
Acta Sociologica, Early Access, pp. 1-19.
Bernardi, Fabrizio; Hertel, Florian R. & Yastrebov, Gordey, 2018
A U-turn in social inequality in college attainment in the US?
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 58, pp. 33-43
Pfeffer, Fabian T. & Hertel, Florian R., 2015
How Has Educational Expansion Shaped Social Mobility Trends in the United States?
Social Forces, 94(1), pp. 143-180
Working Paper Version: PSC Research Report, 14-817, 2014
Hertel, Florian R. & Groh-Samberg, Olaf, 2014
Class Mobility Across Three Generations in the U.S. and Germany
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 35, pp. 35–52
Working Paper Version: open Access provided by UB Bremen
Groh-Samberg, Olaf & Hertel, Florian R., 2011
Laufbahnklassen – Zur empirischen Umsetzung eines dynamisierten Klassenbegriffs mithilfe von Sequenzanalysen
Berliner Journal für Soziologie 21, pp. 115-145
Working Paper Version: SOEP papers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research, 374, 2011.
- Book Chapters and other publications
Hertel, Florian R. & Pfeffer, Fabian T., 2020
The Land of Opportunity? Long-term trends in social mobility and education in the United States.
In: Breen, Richard & Müller, Walter (Hrsg.): Education and Intergenerational Social Mobility in Europe and the United States. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.
Working Paper Version: Inequality Lab Discussion Papers, DP-2018-2
Staab, Philipp S. & Hertel, Florian R., 2020
Ungleichheit im Dienstleistungssektor.
In: WSI-Mitteilungen, 73(3), S. 154.
Hertel, Florian R. & Esche, Frederike, 2019
Die rechte Mitte? Zur Rolle objektiver Ungleichheit und subjektiver Verunsicherung für die Identifikation mit rechten Parteien.
In: Lübke, Christiane & Delhey, Jan (Hg.): Diagnose Angstgesellschaft? Was wir wirklich über die Gefühlslage der Menschen wissen. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, pp. 255-286. (Open Access)
Eckert, Falk B., Hertel, Florian R. & Philipp Ramos Lobato, 2017
In: Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 69(3), pp. 511–515
Hertel, Florian R., 2017
Fällt der Apfel bald gar nicht mehr vom Stamm?
In: Relatif, 32, pp. 36-43
Groh-Samberg, Olaf & Hertel, Florian R., 2015
13 Begriffsdefinitionen und Erklärungen zum Thema Klassenmobilität
In: Diaz-Bone, Rainer & Weischer, Christoph (eds.)
Methoden-Lexikon für die Sozialwissenschaften Wiesbaden: Springer VS
Groh-Samberg, Olaf & Hertel, Florian R., 2015
Ende der Aufstiegsgesellschaft?
In: Seibring, Anne (ed.), Oben – Mitte – Unten
Bonn: Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung.
auch erschienen in: Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, 65(10), pp. 25-32
Groh-Samberg, Olaf & Hertel, Florian R., 2010
Abstieg der Mitte? Zur langfristigen Mobilität von Armut und Wohlstand
In: Berger, Peter A. & Burzan, Nicole (eds.)
Dynamiken (in) der gesellschaftlichen Mitte
Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, pp. 137-157
Hertel, Florian R., 2010
Rezension von: Wacquant, Loïc J.D.:
Bestrafen der Armen, Zur neoliberalen Regierung der sozialen Unsicherheit
Erziehungswissenschaftliche Revue, 9(3)
Groh-Samberg, Olaf & Hertel, Florian R., 2009
The Marital History Files BIOMARSM and BIOMARSY
In: Frick, Joachim R. & Lohmann, Henning (eds.)
Biography and Life History Data in the German Socio Economic Panel (SOEP, v26, 1984-2009)
Frick, Joachim R., Grabka, Markus M., Groh-Samberg, Olaf, Hertel, Florian R. & Tucci, Ingrid, 2009
Alterssicherung von Personen mit Migrationshintergrund
Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales (BMAS) (ed.), Berlin: Bundesdruckerei
09.2010 10.2015 Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSSS)
Dr. rer. pol. (summa cum laude)
Social Mobility over the course of the 20 th century in Germany and the United States
Gutachter: Prof. Dr. Olaf Groh-Samberg, Prof. Dr. Fabian T. Pfeffer
09.2006 03.2007 University of Glasgow, School of Social and Political Sciences
10.2003 03.2009 Freie Universität Berlin, Institut für Soziologie
Dipl-soz. (summa cum laude)
Arbeitsmarktintegration von Migrantinnen in Deutschland
Gutachter: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Gerhards, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Schupp
04.2002 09.2003 Freie Universität Berlin, Institut für Archäologie
Studien der klassischen Archäologie, Osteuropastudien, Soziologie
10.2000 03.2001 Technische Universität Berlin, Mathematisches Institut
- Occupational Career
09.2016 heute Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter (Post-Doc)
10.2017 03.2018 Vertretungsprofessur für Soziologie II (W3)
Karlsruher Institut für Technologie
09.2015 08.2016 Max Weber Fellow
Europäisches Hochschulinstitut Florenz
11.2009 07.2015 Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter
05.2009 10.2009 Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter
Abteilung Sozio-oekonomisches Panel (SOEP); DIW Berlin
02.2003 08.2004 Freelance Editor and Journalist
Freie Universität Berlin
- Teaching Experience
SoSe 2019 S Empirical Internship: Social Inequality (Quantitative) (BA) (4 hrs/week) WiSe 2018/19 L Sociological Foundations (BA) (4 hrs/week) WiSe 2018/19 S Social Inequality in Higher Education (MA) SoSe 2018 L Sociological Foundations (BA) (4 hrs/week) WiSe 2017/18 L Introduction to Sociology (BA) WiSe 2017/18 T Introduction to Sociology (BA) WiSe 2017/18 T Introduction to Sociology (BA) WiSe 2017/18 L Social Inequality (BA) SoSe 2017 S Social Inequality - Dimensions, Causes, Results (BA) (4 hrs/week) SoSe 2017 S Capitalism Critique in Contemporary Societies (MA) WiSe 2016/17 S Advanced Quantitative Methods: Categorical Data Analysis (PhD – EUI) WiSe 2016/17 L Foundations of Empirical Methods (BA) WiSe 2016/17 T Foundations of Empirical Methods (BA) WiSe 2014/15 T Introduction to Fundamental Notions in Sociology (BA) WiSe 2014/15 S Sociology of Education and Social Inequality (BA) SoSe 2014 S Sociology of Education and Social Inequality (BA) WiSe 2013/14 S Sociology of Poverty - From the "Underclass" to Advanced Marginality (BA) SoSe 2013 S Deindustrialization and Social Change in Class Societies (BA) WiSe 2012/13 S Sociology of Education and Social Inequality (BA) SoSe 2012 S Introduction to the Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu (BA) WiSe 2011/12 S Sociology of Education and Social Inequality (BA) SoSe 2011 S Introduction to Data Analysis using Stata (BA/MA) WiSe 2010/11 S Introduction to Data Analysis using Stata (BA/MA) SoSe 2010 T Theory and Praxis of Social Change (BA) Note: T = tutorial; S = Seminar; L = Lecture; EUI = European University Institute Florence
- Competitive Grants and stipends
2020 International Sociological Association‘s RC28 Significant Scholarship Award für "The Relation between Inequality and Intergenerational Class Mobility in 39 Countries." 2019 Forschungsförderung durch die Fakultät für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften. Projekt “Grundlagen empirischer Methoden - Herausforderungen digitalen Wandels für die Lehre (Digi-GeM)” 2018 Forschungsförderung durch die Fakultät für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften.
Projekt „Institutionelle Hürden beim Hochschulzugang“
2018 WISO Graduate School Reisestipendium für die Teilnahme am ISA Kongress in Toronto 2017 DAAD Kongressreisestipendium für RC28 in NYC und 112th Annual Meeting ASA in Montreal 2015 Max Weber Fellowship, Europäisches Hochschulinstitut 2015 InGRID Forschungsförderung für einen 2-wöchigen Aufenthalt an der Universität Bremen 2015 Reisestipendium für die Teilnahme am Herbsttreffen der Sektion Soziale Ungleichheit und Sozialstrukturanalyse der DGS 2015 Young Scholar Grant zur Teilnahme an der Konferenz “(Persistent) Inequalities Revisited”, Monte Verità, Schweiz 2013 DAAD Kurzzeitstipendium für einen Forschungsaufenthalt an der Universität Michigan 2012 Best Poster Prize auf der ECSR/Equalsoc Conference, Universität Stockholm. 2006 ERASMUS Stipendium für zwei Trimester an der Universität Glasgow
- Professional Associations, Research Labs and Networks
DGS – Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziologie
ASA – American Sociological Association
Sektion Soziale Ungleichheit und Sozialstrukturanalyse (DGS)
ISA’s RC-28 on Social Stratification and Mobility
European Consortium for Sociological Research
Inequality Lab (University of Michigan)
Psychology of Inequality Lab (University of Michigan)
Morality, Emotions & Social Hierarchy Lab (UC Irvine)
SOCIUM (Uni Bremen)
- Research grants and fellowships
Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (PhD fellowships)
Max Weber Programme at EUI Florence (Post-Doc fellowships)
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Research grants)
Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (Visiting grants)
InGRID-2 (visiting grants – EU H2020)
- (Some) Sociology Journals
American Journal of Sociology
American Sociological Review
Sociology of Education
Journal of Marriage and Family
The British Journal of Sociology
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility
European Sociological Review
New Left Review
Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie
Zeitschrift für Soziologie
Berliner Journal für Soziologie
- Research Data
GESIS (German data repository)
SOEP (German panel data DIW Berlin)
ALLBUS (German micro data)
IPUMS (US data repository)
PSID (US panel data)
GSS (US micro data)
EU-SILC (EU micro data)
ESS (European micro data)
EVS (European micro data)
WVS (International micro data)
ISSP (International micro data)
ILOSTAT (International ILO country data)
BHPS (British panel data)