Forschungsprojekte: Abstracts

  • SNF PRIMA - Political opposition in post-communist democracies and authoritarianisms


    SNF PRIMA - Political opposition in post-communist democracies and authoritarianisms


    There is no liberal democracy without opposition. The recent rise of anti-establishment parties and polarization have been deemed the most compelling threats to the democratic order worldwide. The bulk of academic attention has been paid primarily to executive aggrandizement and authoritarian leadership to grasp the stages of the attested “democracy erosion”. The examination of political opposition has been largely neglected, even though its unconstrained functioning sustains liberal democracy on the one hand and enhances democratization process on the other. The project’s main question is therefore: How and to what extent can the political opposition fulfil its main functions in different political systems? Central and Eastern Europe appears a particularly feasible context in this regard, as several new European Union (EU) member states have recently been considered “semi-consolidated democracies” or even “hybrid regimes”. At the same time, some EU candidate states are still classified as “competitive authoritarianisms” despite ongoing formal institutional reforms.

    Political opposition exists and constitutes the core of both democracies and authoritarianisms. However, its form, role and “room for manoeuvre” differ across political systems (Albrecht 2005, Helms 2021, Bedford and Vinatier 2019). To account for this variety, the project puts forward an original theoretical model based on actor-oriented perspective for analysis of structural changes and strategies. It deals with the topic of political opposition through in-depth case studies of six post-communist countries (Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Ukraine, and Georgia) which feature different quality of democracy, different experience with democratization process and varied party systems. The research is organized into three interrelated analytical dimensions of political opposition: 1) Institutional “opportunity structure” including the most recent policy changes and the way political opposition is treated by the incumbents in a respective country; 2) Strategy of relevant opposition parties embracing their programmatic and organizational renewal on the one hand, and their resources (party funding, links to civil society organizations, the European Union’s leverage) on the other; 3) The role of civil society organizations highlighting the way civil society organizations cooperate with parliamentary opposition parties to better organize their interests and pursue their goals. These dimensions serve to differentiate between genuine opposition and just semi-opposition (Linz 1973, Dettman 2018) benefiting from privileges of power. Only through such a thorough analysis can we explore the way political opposition does fulfil its functions of critique, control and presenting a programmatic alternative. Through the lenses of the functioning of political opposition, the project reveals the nature of a respective political system and enables to identify the outright system change. It thus contributes to the literature on democracy resilience, the so called “democratic backsliding” and authoritarianism.

    Funding: CHF 1'188'603

    Projectleader: Dr. Magdalena Solska

    Duration: 01/2023- 12/2027

  • PIONEERED - Pioneering policies and practices tackling educational inequalities in Europe


    PIONEERED - Pioneering policies and practices tackling educational inequalities in Europe


    A key objective of the Horizon 2020 framework programme ‘Europe in a changing world’ is to ensure children from vulnerable groups enjoy access to education and reduce educational inequalities. The EU-funded PIONEERED project will specify research-informed policy standards and identify innovative policies and practices to reduce inequalities in accessing education. The project will identify emerging and existing sources of educational inequalities from early childhood to tertiary education, design pioneering policies and practices of reaction, incorporate the findings, and determine the most adaptable instruments and innovative policies to apply across EU Member States. PIONEERED will analyse national policies addressing inequalities, analyse new and existing relevant data, and conduct research in schools and informal education centres.


    Keywords: educational inequalities, social policy, educational policy, Europe

    Funding Source: H2020 scheme of the European Commission

    Applicants: Prof. Dr. Andreas Hadjar and PIONEERED consortium
    Project Leader: Prof. Dr. Andreas Hadjar
    Duration: 2021-2024


    UNIVERSITÄT BERN, Switzerland












    Website: PIONEERED - Pioneering policies and practices tackling educational inequalities in Europe | PIONEERED (

  • Gender, Return Migration and Reintegration in the Gambia, Guinea and Senegal


    Gender, Return Migration and Reintegration in the Gambia, Guinea and Senegal


    How does gender shape return mobilities and reintegration, and how do patterns of return mobilities and reintegration impact upon gender in the Gambia, Guinea and Senegal?

    Since the peak of the ‘refugee crises’ in 2015, more restrictive migration policies have been implemented across Europe, including measures of increased deportation and repatriation. As a result, International Organisations, European state development agencies, and NGOs have expanded their engagement in return-led schemes, such as in ‘assisted voluntary return programmes’. Moreover, return migration has also become a prominent subject of the global development agenda, where it has become a priority area of migration–development policies.

    It is against this background of the return migration context, that we situate our research. We intend to deconstruct the international return policy discourse by introducing the migrants’ subjective experiences on their return and reintegration processes. While gendered analysis has become more integral in migration studies, it is by far less existent in post-return reintegration. Thus, the overall aim of this project is to understand how gender shapes the reintegration process of migrants, and viceversa, how patterns of return mobilities and reintegration impact upon gender in the Gambia, Guinea and Senegal. Thereby, we focus on three groups of returnees: 1) migrants seeking institutional support before returning to Gambia, Guinea or Senegal, 2) returnees only seeking support after arrival, and 3) returnees seeking no support.

    The study is based on a multi-sited ethnography, using a variety of fieldwork methods. Given that both gender and return are subject to complex temporal dynamics, the project is partly designed as a longitudinal study. In order to investigate the full scope of the interlinkages between reintegration and gender as well as the support mechanisms addressed to returnees, we opt for a pluri-disciplinary approach that involves social anthropology, development studies, human geography, sociology, and social work. The expected project results will enable a wide range of users - governments, IOs/NGOs, among others - to obtain knowledge on gender aspects inherent to return and reintegration processes in the countries under study, so as to optimise their return infrastructure.


    Policy Brief "Le rôle du genre dans le retour et la réintégration"

    Policy Brief " Retour et réintégration au Sénégal"



    CHF 320'000 by Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS) .


    Gender, Return Migration and Reintegration in the Gambia, Guinea and Senegal


    Eveline Odermatt (Coordinator) University of Fribourg, Luzia Jurt (Co-Coordinator) Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz FHNW

    University Julius Nyerere, Kankan (Guinea Conakry);

    University Assane Seck, Ziguinchor (Senegal);

    International Organisation for Migration - IOM (Senegal)

    Duration: 2020 - 2023

  • Female and male youth’s experiences of violence in domestic networks: gendered interpretation and associated options for agency


    Female and male youth’s experiences of violence in domestic networks: gendered interpretation and associated options for agency


    Domestic violence and violence within the domestic sphere is regarded as a major social problem. Many studies disclose the wide range of negative effects of domestic violence on the victims regarding their health and their social situation. The causes of violence are manifold. They are located on all levels of society: in the personal history, the microsystem, the exo- and macrosystem.

    In contrast to the huge body of research on domestic violence, studies on young people’s experiences of violence in the domestic sphere and possible differences due to gender are scant and fragmented.

    This project thus focuses on female and male youth that live in violence-prone domestic networks in Switzerland. We concentrate on youth who are witness, victim and/or perpetrator of violence in their households of origin. We want to understand the youth’s opportunities and modalities to deal with violence within the domestic sphere. We assume that within the domestic networks ‘social logics’ of dealing with violence exist and that they are gendered. Our aim is to detect such network-intrinsic gendered logics by revealing and understanding the female and male youth’s interpretation of violence and their thereof perceived options of agency.

    Our research questions are:
    - How is violence in domestic networks interpreted, and to what extent and how does this interpretation structure the female and male youth’s options for agency?
    - What are the gendered network-intrinsic logics of dealing with violence in the domestic sphere and what options for agency for youth result there from?

    Qualitative ego-centered social network analysis and thematic interviews with 20 male and female youth between 16 and 25 years of age serve as an empirical basis for this research project.

    The project aims to reduce research gaps and to scientifically generate knowledge about possible logics and contextual aspects of dealing with violence. From a practical perspective, it will provide useful information to conceptualize and/or improve legal regulations as well as to device interventions to support youth to avoid or reduce the effects of experiences of violence in their households of origin.

    Key Words

    Violence in the domestic sphere, youth, gender, qualitative social network analysis

    Funding Source: Stiftung Homo Liberalis

    Applicants: Dr. Anne Kersten und Prof. Dr. Monica Budowski
    Project Leader: Dr. Anne Kersten
    Duration: Since 2019

  • Kundenumfragen für die Schweizerische Multiple-Sklerose-Gesellschaft (SMSG)


    Der Studienbereich Soziologie, Sozialpolitik und Sozialarbeit der Universität Fribourg, vertreten durch Dr. Sebastian Schief, wurde von der Schweizerischen Multiple Sklerose Gesellschaft beauftragt, die Konzeption, Durchführung und Auswertung von Kundenumfragen zu übernehmen. Die Schweizerische Multiple Sklerose Gesellschaft ist eine Non-Profit-Organisation in der Geschäftsform eines Vereins. Die Gesellschaft arbeitet schweizweit in allen Landessprachen. Die MS-Gesellschaft ist gegenüber dem Bundesamt für Sozialversicherungen rechenschaftspflichtig und hat das mit einem Finanzbeitrag verbundene Leistungspaket jährlich nachzuweisen. Teil dieses Nachweises ist es, die Qualität der Leistungen mittels Kundenumfragen zu bestätigen. Bis jetzt wurden die Kundenbefragungen intern erstellt, durchgeführt und ausgewertet. Ziel ist eine Überarbeitung resp. Neukonzeption der Erhebungsinstrumente, die Durchführung der Erhebung, eine Eingabe und Analyse der erhobenen Daten (deskriptiv oder inferenzstatistisch) sowie eine Berichterstellung und visuelle Darstellung der Berichtsergebnisse. Die Kundenumfragen betreffen die Qualität von vier Dienstleistungsbereichen: Beratungen, Freiwilligenarbeit, Veranstaltungen, Öffentlichkeitsarbeit.

    Förderung: Schweizerischerische Multiple-Sklerose-Gesellschaft (SMSG)
    ProjektmitarbeiterInnen: Sebastian Schief (Leitung), Thomas Fasel (Mitarbeiter), Marc Wittwer (Mitarbeiter)
    Laufzeit: seit September 2014

  • Alumnibefragung ehemaliger Studierender

    Alumnibefragung ehemaliger Studierender des deutschsprachigen Teils des Studienbereichs Soziologie, Sozialpolitik und Sozialarbeit im Departement Sozialwissenschaften der Universität Fribourg

    Der Studienbereich Soziologie, Sozialpolitik und Sozialarbeit führt regelmässig eine Befragung ehemaliger Studierender durch um zu eruieren, welchen Nutzen die Alumni aus dem Studium ziehen konnten und wie ihr berufliches Fortkommen ist. Der Studienbereich möchte durch diese Informationen überprüfen, inwiefern die angebotenen Studiengänge auf lange Sicht die Anforderungen der Alumni erfüllen. Alle ehemaligen Studierenden werden mittels eines Onlinefragebogens befragt. Die Alumni werden per Email gebeten, an der Befragung teilzunehmen. Das in diesem Projekt angewandte Instrument und die Ergebnisse können genutzt werden, um die Qualität des Studiums zu verbessern und deutlicher aufzuzeigen, welche Stärken und Schwächen innerhalb der Studienprogramme vorliegen. Es ist uns wichtig, die Sicht der ehemaligen Studierenden auf das Studienprogramm zu erheben. 

    Förderung: Eigenmittel
    ProjektmitarbeiterInnen: Sebastian Schief (sebastian.schief (at) (Leitung), Monica Budowski, Christoph Tschanz
    Ehemalige MitarbeiterInnen: Lena Liechti
    Laufzeit: Seit 2010

  • Comparative perspectives on precarity and household strategies

    Within the fields of social inequalities and poverty research, recent empirical research highlights the need to approach a socioeconomic category often overlooked: the households in “precarious prosperity” that struggle to maintain a certain level of socioeconomic prosperity, while being aware of the limits of their opportunities and choices. This overlooked socioeconomic category has been termed “precarious prosperity”: it is a structural position within the social inequality order, located between poverty and secure material prosperity in terms of material wellbeing. Households and individuals within this socioeconomic category may be empirically identified by means of household income and standard of living. Such socioeconomic positions are often accompanied by experienced or perceived insecurity to maintain or improve them and the structural ability to plan the future. We term this combination of material wellbeing and insecurity over time as  “precarity”.
    The studies presented here address the topic of precarity in different countries and provide new insights about this socioeconomic category. They also present longitudinal qualitative and comparative information on how individuals and households living in precarious prosperity experience, manage and conduct their lives, what their living conditions and their (household) strategies of households are.


    • A Comparative Perspective on Household Strategies in Conditions of Precarious Prosperity in Chile, Costa Rica, Spain and Switzerland
    • A Comparative Perspective on Precarious Prosperity and Household Strategies in Romania and Switzerland in Times of Economic Strain

    Prof. Dr. Monica Budowski (CH) 
    Dr. Iuliana Precupetu (RO) 
    Dr. Ana Maria Preoteasa (RO)
    MA Rebekka Sieber (CH) 
    Prof. Dr. Christian Suter (CH)
    Dr. Ionela Vlase (RO) 

    Previous Members
    Dr. Michèle Amacker (CH) 
    MA Maurizio Coppola (CH)
    MA Jacqueline Kalbermatter (CH)
    Dr. Wiebke Keim (CH)
    Dr. Daniel Vera (CH)

  • Evaluationsforschung «Evaluation Electronic Monitoring»

    Evaluationsforschung „Evaluation Electronic Monitoring“

    Das Projekt begleitet und evaluiert die Einführung von Electronic Monitoring in verschiedenen Anwendungsfeldern des Straf- und Justizvollzugs im Kanton Zürich. Dabei werden die Perspektiven verschiedener involvierter Akteure (Institutionen wie auch Personen) erhoben. Die Erhebungen kombinieren qualitative und quantitative Instrumente (mixed-methods).

    Auftraggeber: Amt für Justizvollzug, Kanton Zürich
    Projektleitung: Marina Richter, Ueli Hostettler
    Forschende: Barbara Ryser
    Laufzeit: 01.11.2016 - 31.10.2019

  • Employment and Social Differences in the Health Sector: An Institutional Perspective on a Swiss Hospital


    The health care labour market is highly structured along categories of difference, such as formal qualification, migration experience, gender or age. Research has pointed out that these differences are often used in a discriminatory way (Kofman & Raghuram 2009). Most studies have taken either a micro perspective (work biographies of individuals) or a macro perspective (legal and structural frame). Research that analyses the meso-level of the employing institutions is scarce and, in addition, often lacks a sound conceptualisation of inequality. We therefore propose a project that combines two heuristic perspectives: institutional ethnography (IE), as a means of understanding the institutional logic and ruling relations in hospitals (Smith 1987; 2005), and multilevel intersectional research (Winker & Degele 2009), used to unveil social inequality and discrimination. The project aims to further our understanding of these institutional logics by conducting research in a Swiss hospital, and by contextualizing the institutional logics in the national and international frameworks of legal rules and established practices of labour migration and employment.

    This leads to the following research question: How do hospitals in a field of highly structured levels of formal qualifications and under the pressure of neoliberal restructuring handle their personnel policies? On the one hand, we focus on the context of the hospitals’ policies: the national frameworks that regulate labour and migration and the stakeholders that influence labour arrangements in hospitals. On the other hand, we look inside the hospital and inquire about the institutional logics that shape personnel policies. It is important to analyse the practices and structures in terms of ruling relations, i.e. the complex of relations that organize the social practice such as work in contemporary societies (Smith 1990a). This perspective is then further combined with an intersectional lens to understand how personnel policies are structured by categories of difference such as gender, migration, nationality/ethnicity, age and qualifications.

    To answer these questions, we will follow two perspectives of data collection: outside the hospital we will collect documents (for instance legal texts). Inside the hospital, we will conduct an Institutional Ethnography (IE) that involves collecting documents, as well as conducting observation and semi-structured interviews.

    The study seeks to contribute to the field of research on social inequality and discrimination in the labour market using an institutional perspective. Combining the research strategies of IE and multilevel intersectionality constitutes a novel approach to these questions. By structuring our research in this way, we hope to enrich the debate theoretically and methodologically. For practitioners, the results will have implications for equal rights policies and will address questions related to personnel shortages.


    Key Words

    Labour market; social differences; intersectionality; personnel policies; health care sector


    Funding Source: Stiftung Homo Liberalis


    Applicants: PD Dr. Marina Richter (University of Fribourg)

    Project Leaders: PD Dr. Marina Richter, Prof. Dr. Susan Thieme (University of Bern)

    Collaborator: Dr. Carole Ammann

    Duration: 2018-2019