Doctoral Program PROWEL

Social Problems and Social Welfare

Prowel offers thematic and methodological workshops to support doctoral students (it is not a Graduate School). It enables regular scientific exchange with doctoral students and lecturers in joint colloquia, as well as in individual discussions with scientific experts. To promote the participation of international doctoral students and also bridge the French-German divide, a large part of the program is offered in English. The dissertations may be written in any language agreed upon with the supervisor(s). The doctoral program is research-oriented, interdisciplinary and oriented towards learn-processes that qualify graduate researchers academically. Furthermore, the doctoral program aims at enhancing the doctoral students’ networks nationally and internationally by motivating and teaching them to organize and actively participate in scientific conferences. PROWEL is a doctoral program of the University of Fribourg in collaboration with the University of Neuchâtel. It is financed by the SUK.


PROWEL Workshop

Negotiation and Agency in State-Socialist Academic Publishing: A Slow Memory Methodology

Bildungszentrum Burgbühl, 17-18 November 2023
Experts: Libora Oates-Indruchova




  • Thematic Focus

    The doctoral program PROWEL aims at furthering knowledge from an interdisciplinary view on key issues regarding the analysis of the production, re-production and change in individual, organizational and social welfare. Social problems are issues that (parts of) societies define as problematic or that evolve to be problematic when they are socially and explicitly perceived. The term welfare is used in a broad understanding: it refers to both material and immaterial aspects of wellbeing, such as (availability and/or access to) economic resources or social services, but also feelings of belonging, happiness, satisfaction or trust, on various societal levels (the micro, meso and macro level). Sources of wellbeing and welfare are the state, markets, households/families, communities and nonprofit organizations. Institutions and actors’ actions, omission or negligence of actions, (implicit or explicit) traditions or regulations within specific institutions, or their interplay produce or maintain wellbeing and welfare. Social inequalities provide a theoretical and analytical framework for the analysis of social problems and welfare and build one common point of departure for the doctoral program. Areas of research broadly are the production, re-production, change and outcomes in individual, organizational and societal wellbeing and welfare and include (i) social problems: their identification, perception and handling by concerned or involved actors within institutions; (ii) actors and institutions as well as their interplay (such as states, markets, communities, organizations and households and families); (iii) social outcomes of dealing with social problems.

  • Target Group

    The doctoral program targets students of various disciplines dealing with the issues of the umbrella theme in different ways: sociology, social policy, social work, political sciences, special education, educational sciences, criminology, economics, science of religions, social anthropology, or contemporary history. Candidates must have a supervisor for their PhD project before applying to this doctoral program. The doctoral program offers no scholarships or jobs.

  • Information and application

    Doctoral students may join the program any time and finish their thesis according to their individual progress. They are expected to present an input or their work in progress to a selective group of experts at least once a year and to comment on other inputs. 

    Candidates must have a supervisor for their PhD project BEFORE applying to this doctoral program. PROWEL does not liaise to potential supervisors and offers no scholarships. For application procedures please contact:

    To apply for the doctoral program PROWEL, please fill in this application form and send it with the PhD project outline to prowel(at) or by postal mail to PROWEL, c/o University of Fribourg, Department of Social Sciences, Route des Bonnesfontaines 11, 1700 Fribourg. For further questions, please contact the PROWEL team by mail or the secretariat of the section Sociology, Socialpolicy and Social Work by phone +41 26 300 77 96.

  • Structure

    The methodological and thematic needs of students are continuously evaluated. Accepted students are required to participate in:

    • Module 1: Thematic two-day workshops with external experts 
    • Module 2: Two-day workshop with external experts (work methodology)
  • Recent Workshops organized by PROWEL

    PROWEL Workshop

    Longitudinal Qualitative Methods and Survey Experiments in a Comparative Perspective

    St. Antoni, 19-20 May 2023
    Experts: Louise Ryan, Robin Samuel



    Economic and Social Inequalities and the Role of Religion in Modern Welfare Systems

    Fribourg, 21-22 October 2022

    Experts: Mikko Niemelä, Ingela Naumann, Monica Budowski


    Global Inequalities and Social Policies

    Fribourg, Miséricorde, 20-21 May 2022

    External Experts: Anja Weiss, Olli Kangas



    PROWEL Workshop

    St Antoni, 19-20 November 2021

    Experts: Doris Bühler-Niederberger, Veronika Magyar-Haas


    PROWEL Workshop - extra

    Fribourg, Saturday, 28 August 2021

    Experts or Organizers: Joakim Palme, Monica Budowski


    Solidarity and social movements

    Online-meeting, 8 May 2021

     Expert: Christian Lahusen


    Theoretical foundations for social policy

    Online-meeting, 31 October 2020

    Expert: Jean-Michel Bonvin


    Gender and migration / Discourse analysis and convention theory

    Twann, 1-2 November 2019

    Experts: Kenneth Horvath, Paul Scheibelhofer


    Research question / Institutional theory 

    Twann, 3-4 May 2019

    Experts: Andreas Hadjar, Nadine Arnold


    Elites and Mixed Methods 

    Twann, 19-20 October 2018

    Experts: Peter Imbusch, Felix Knappertsbusch

    Social Inequalities  and Disability

    Twann, 4-5  May 2018

    Experts: Barbara Fritz, Lisa Pfahl


    Academic writing and publishing

    Twann, 27-28 October 2017

    Expert: Anton Froeyman


    Conceptual and empirical perspectives on poverty and wellbeing

    Twann, 5-6 May 2017

    Expert: Allister McGregor



    How to write grant proposals
    University of Fribourg, 11 June 2016

    Expert: Susanne Matuschek



    Linking theory and data
    Hotel Fontana, Twann, 29-30 April 2016

    Experts: Nina Baur, Eva Barlösius


  • Scientific direction

    Prof. Dr. Andreas Hadjar (Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, University of Fribourg)
    Prof. Dr. Winfried Kronig (Specialized Pedagogy, University of Fribourg)
    Prof. Dr. Ingela Naumann (Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, University of Fribourg)
    Prof. Dr. Carmen Zurbriggen (Special Education, Social Pedagogy, University of Fribourg)

    Prof. em. Dr. Monica Budowski (Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, University of Fribourg) 
    Prof. em. Dr. Christian Suter (Sociology, University of Neuchâtel)

  • Participants and Alumni

    Niolyne Bomolo, University of Fribourg (abstract)
    Zhubin Chen, The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies Genève (abstract)
    Ran Chen, University of Edinburgh, School of Social and Political Science (abstract)
    Claire Edwards, University of Fribourg (abstract)
    Sercan Erer, University of Luxemburg (abstract
    Keila Escalante, University of Neuchâtel (abstract)
    Pascale Gazareth, University of Neuchâtel (abstract)
    Saro Gibilisco, University of Fribourg (abstract)
    Melody Gugelmann, University of Fribourg 
    Friederike Hell, University of Fribourg (abstract)
    Nina Jany, University of Fribourg (abstract)
    Kevin Simoes Loureiro, University of Luxemburg (abstract)
    Laura Meier, University of Fribourg (abstract)
    Michele Pizzera, University of Fribourg (abstract)
    Nathalie Quartenoud Macherel, University of Fribourg
    Matthias Riedmann, University of Fribourg
    Sophie Serrano, University of Neuchâtel (abstract)
    Anina Singer, University of Bern (abstract)
    Milan Stocker, University of Fribourg (abstract)
    Aleksander Zielinski, University of Fribourg (abstract)



    Tugce Beycan, University of Neuchâtel 
    Baptiste Brodard, University of Fribourg 
    Cindy Diacquenod, University of Fribourg
    Martin Gasser, University of Fribourg 
    Marilyn Grell-Brisk, University of Neuchâtel 
    Chantal Hinni, University of Fribourg
    Daniel Hofstetter, University of Fribourg/Goethe University Frankfurt 
    Anna Isenhardt, University of Fribourg
    Cédric Jacot, University of Neuchâtel
    Jacqueline Kalbermatter, University of Fribourg
    Sarah Kersten, University of Fribourg 
    Brigitte Kürsteiner, University of Fribourg
    Florence Lebert, University of Fribourg
    Lena Liechti, University of Fribourg
    Stefan Niedermann, University of Fribourg 
    Laura Ravazzini, University of Neuchâtel 
    Carla Ribeiro, University of Neuchâtel 
    Antoine Sansonnens, University of Fribourg 

    Yvan Schulz, University of Neuchâtel 
    Rebekka Sieber, University of Neuchâtel, University of Fribourg 
    Jehane Simona, University of Neuchâtel 
    Aurianne Stroude, University of Fribourg 
    Sabrina Tabares, University of Neuchâtel 
    Noemi Trucco, University of Fribourg 
    Christoph Tschanz, University of Fribourg 
    Raphael Zahnd, University of Zurich
    Carmen Zurbriggen, University of Fribourg