Research

On this page we summarize recent empirical findings in a clear and accessible style. We provide short-summaries and reports highlighting the main innovations and results of papers accepted by peer-reviewed journals.

We highly welcome submissions of short-summaries and reports of your research to this page. Submissions can be made by both members and non-members of the Akademie (for more information: How to submit a short-report).


Closed Doors Everywhere? A Meta-Analysis of Field Experiments on Ethnic Discrimination in Rental Housing Markets

Katrin Auspurg, Andreas Schneck, and Thomas Hinz
(Corresponding author: katrin.auspurg@lmu.de)
July 2018

  • Motivation: Discrimination is long seen as a meaningful factor for ethnic inequalities on rental housing markets. Yet empirically, the extent of discrimination is still debatable. Meta-Analyses enable a comprehensive review of the existing literature and point to reached conclusions and open questions.
  • Research questions: (1) Are effect sizes inflated by publication bias? (2) Have there been changes in the level of discrimination over time? (3) Does the amount of discrimination vary with the amount of information applicants disclose on their social status (statistical discrimination)?
  • Methods: Quantitative meta-analysis of field experiments (in person audits and correspondence tests) that were run over the last four decades in the United States, Canada and Europe (N = 71).

  • Results and Discussion: Nearly all experiments document the occurrence of ethnic discrimination. Effect sizes are inflated by publication bias, but there is still substantial evidence left once the bias is removed. The analysis reveals a consistent decline in the extent of discrimination over time, from moderate levels of discrimination in the 1970s and 1980s, up to only small but still statistically significant levels in the 1990s and 2000s. A significant part of the discriminatory behaviour can be attributed to missing information about the social status of applicants, which supports theories on statistical discrimination.

More details can be found in the published paper (open access): Katrin Auspurg, Andreas Schneck & Thomas Hinz (2018) Closed doors everywhere? A meta-analysis of field experiments on ethnic discrimination in rental housing markets, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.


Mass Media and Concerns about Immigration in Germany in the 21st Century: Individual-Level Evidence over 15 Years

Christian S. Czymara and Stephan Dochow
(Corresponding author: christian@czymara.com)
(July 2018)

  • Motivation: Immigration is one of the most dominating issues in political discourses in Europe at the moment. We investigate whether, and how much, actual mass media coverage of immigration related topics affect individual attitudes by combining a quantitative content analysis of German newspaper articles with survey data from the Socio-Economic Panel.
  • Research question: (i) Does media reporting about immigration issues increase concerns about immigration? (ii) Who is particularly prone to such media effects?
  • Method: In total, our data covers 25,000 persons and 15 years (2001 to 2015). We use panel fixed effects models to explain concerns by the individual level of media salience (measured as the number of newspaper articles about immigration issues published before each interview). The figure shows descriptive trends of media salience and immigration concerns.
  • Results & conclusion: We find a substantive and stable positive effect of media salience. Deeper investigations reveal that this effect is most potent for individuals living in areas with lower share of foreigners and for those with lower education or conservative ideology, stressing the importance of individual receptiveness. We conclude that adding discursive aspects to the canonical group threat-paradigm is theoretically and empirically important to explain dynamics in threat perceptions. Because methods for structuring large text corpora are increasingly available, we look optimistically to future research in this respect.

Further information in the published paper: Czymara, Christian S. and Dochow, Stephan. 2018. “Mass Media and Concerns about Immigration in Germany in the 21st Century: Individual-Level Evidence over 15 Years” European Sociological Review. https://doi.org/10.1093/esr/jcy019.


Rules, Relations, and Work

Vincent J. Roscigno, Carsten Sauer, Peter Valet
(Corresponding author: roscigno.1@osu.edu)
July 2018

  • Motivation: Bureaucracy and social relations have been core foci in the development of sociology of work, stratification, and organizational research. Theoretical conceptions are, however, often ambiguous regarding what is most meaningful for workers and workplaces. Bureaucratic rules are either considered meaningful by providing predictability or problematic, owing to assaults on autonomy. Notwithstanding that proximate social relations are considered fundamental in ethnographic, resistance, and justice accounts, these literatures have paid little attention to the interpenetrating, possibly mutually constitutive nature of structure and interaction.
  • Research questions: (1) Are bureaucratic structure and rules or workplace social relations more meaningful for workers and their workplaces? (2) Are there conditional associations? (3) Do effects vary by status groups?
  • Method: We draw from survey data on approximately 2,500 German workers of varying statuses and across a wide array of heterogeneous workplaces. These data afford important indicators of bureaucratic rules, horizontal and vertical social relations, key controls, and several worker (i.e., job satisfaction and sense of fair treatment) and workplace (i.e., organizational commitment and work effort) outcomes.

  • Results and conclusion: Our analyses of worker- and workplace-specific outcomes show a strong and independent impact of social relations compared to bureaucratic rules. Although these effects are largely parallel across status groups there are noteworthy gender differences indicating more pronounced detrimental structural effects for men and more marked relational effects for women. These results call for greater attention to relational dimensions of work-life and their consequence for organizations and the individuals within.

More details can be found in the published paper: Roscigno, Vincent J., Sauer, Carsten, & Valet, Peter (2018). Rules, Relations, and Work. American Journal of Sociology. 123(6): 1784-1825.

 


Attitudes towards Muslims and fear of terrorism

Henrik Andersen, Jochen Mayerl
(Corresponding Author: Henrik.Andersen@sowi.uni-kl.de)
May 2018

  • Motivation: This explorative study examines explanations for survey respondents’ reported fear of terrorism. So far, the relatively small number of empirical studies focusing on fear of terrorism have typically adopted an explanatory framework from the field of research on ‘fear of crime’. We argue that this approach is both unconvincing from an argumentative standpoint and not supported by our analysis.
  • Research questions: (1) How appropriate are the fear of crime-related predictors at explaining fear of terrorism? (2) How do attitudes towards Muslims (islamophobia) influence fear of ter-rorism?
  • Method: We conduct a mediator-analysis using Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). Data is based on a non-probability quota sample of residents of the city of Kaiserslautern.

 

  • Results and conclusions: We show that respondents that report being fearful of becoming a victim of terrorism are also islamophobic. Attitudes towards Muslims completely mediate the effects of the fear of crime-related predictors. The findings cast previous empirical reports in a new light. Respondents tend not to be fearful of terrorism unless they also hold anti-Muslim attitudes. We argue that a new theoretical framework is needed and that, given the current climate, new approaches should incorporate attitudes towards Muslims.

More details can be found in a Short Report or in the published paper:
Andersen, Henrik, Mayerl, Jochen (2018) Attitudes towards Muslims and fear of terrorism. Ethnic and Racial Studies, published online January 15 2018. DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2017.1413200.


A decomposition of local labour-market conditions and their relevance for inequalities in transitions to vocational training

Steffen Hillmert, Andreas Hartung & Katarina Weßling
(Corresponding author: steffen.hillmert@uni-tuebingen.de)
May 2018

  •  Motivation: The specification of context variables often receives insufficient attention in empirical analyses. In particular, regional variation in context conditions may be conflated with trends over time.
  •  Research question: When accounting for this heterogeneity, to what extent have individual transitions to vocational training in Germany been affected by local labour-market conditions?
  •  Method:  We propose a statistical decomposition approach, which allows for a systematic differentiation between long-term change, short-term fluctuations, and structural regional differences in labour-market conditions. Regionalized labour-market data are merged with longitudinal data from the National Educational Panel Study, and multivariate transition-rate models are fitted.

 

  • Results and conclusions: Structural differences between regions have had significant effects on the transition behaviour of school leavers, whereas temporary crises have been of only minor relevance. Moreover, different groups have been affected to different degrees by varying labour-market conditions.

More information can be found in the published paper:Hillmert, Steffen, Hartung, Andreas & Weßling, Katarina (2017): A decomposition of local labour-market conditions and their relevance for inequalities in transitions to vocational training. European Sociological Review 33 (4): 534-550, DOI: 10.1093/esr/jcx057

 


Order without law:
Reputation promotes cooperation in a cryptomarket for illegal drugs

Wojtek Przepiorka, Lukas Norbutas, Rense Corten
(Corresponding author: w.przepiorka@uu.nl)
March 2018


Figure 1:
Reputation effects on item price

  • Motivation: Although the reputation mechanism has been shown to promote cooperation in humans, existing evidence is mostly based on small-scale laboratory experiments or on data obtained from online markets that are embedded in functioning legal systems. It is thus an open question whether reputation can promote cooperation at a large scale and in the absence of legal and moral assurances.
  • Research question: Can reputation formation promote cooperation in a large group of anonymous agents with doubtful intentions?
  • Method: Fixed effects regression based on transaction data from the cryptomarket Silk Road 1.0 with product prices and sales as dependent variable and seller reputations as independent variable. Cryptomarkets are online markets in the so-called Dark Web, which can only be accessed by means of encryption software that conceals users’ identities and locations.

  • Results and conclusions: Sellers’ rating histories affect the behavior of both sellers and buyers. Well-reputed sellers reap market benefits by increasing prices, while sellers with lower reputations decrease their prices to compensate potential buyers for the risk they take when buying from them (Figure 1). We also find that sellers with better reputations sell more goods over the same period of time. Our results challenge the institutional and social embeddedness of agents as necessary preconditions for the emergence of social order in markets.

Przepiorka, Wojtek, Lukas Norbutas and Rense Corten. 2017. „Order without Law: Reputation Promotes Cooperation in a Cryptomarket for Illegal Drugs.“ European Sociological Review 33(6):752-64. doi: 10.1093/esr/jcx072.


Well-Being Depends on Where You Come From:
Some New Results on the Reproduction of Social Inequality

Fabian Kratz, Gerrit Bauer, and Josef Brüderl
Corresponding author: fabian.kratz@soziologie.uni-muenchen.de
March 2018

 

Figure 1: Predicted well-being over the life course
(well-being measured by life satisfaction)

  • Motivation: This study adds two innovations to the literature on social inequality over generations. First, it uses a summary inequality measure (well-being) instead of single inequality dimensions, and secondly it employs a life course perspective instead of a static view.
  • Research questions: (1) Do children of high social origin show higher levels of well-being?
    (2) Does this social origin well-being differential widen over the life course?
  • Method: Random effects growth curves are estimated, using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP v31) covering the years from 1984 to 2014.

  • Results and Conclusions: Classical sociological hypotheses on social reproduction are supported. (1) There is a well-being differential such that high origin offspring is better off already early in life. (2) This well-being differential widens over the life course, meaning that there is a pattern of cumulative (dis-) advantage.

More details can be found in a Short Report or in the published paper:

Kratz, Fabian, Gerrit Bauer and Josef Brüderl (2018) Die Vererbung sozialer Ungleichheit: Ein neuer Ansatz zur Untersuchung einer klassischen soziologischen Frage. S. 71-87 in: M. Giesselmann et al. (eds.) Lebensbedingungen in Deutschland in der Längsschnittperspektive. Wiesbaden: Springer.