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Ongoing PhD programs

Teresa Löckmann

Menstrual Activism in Germany - An Organizational Sociological Analysis (Doctorate within the scope of the project Organization and Law)

On January 1, 2020, the German Bundestag passed a new law reducing the sales tax on menstrual products from 19 to 7 percent. Preceding this legislative change was a two-year public debate in which individual and collective representatives from various interests protested against the fiscal discrimination of menstruators in tax law. Since this legislative amendment, menstruation and its societal significance have become a topic of public awareness in Germany.

A field of activist initiatives, pilot projects, campaigns, and organizations has emerged around menstruation. Topics such as menstrual health have experienced a veritable boom across various societal levels. Corresponding markets, particularly manufacturers of period products but also providers of specific services, have benefited from this trend. Menstruation is no longer only a field for voluntary educational purposes but has also given rise to new professional and occupational fields.

In this dissertation, menstrual activism is understood as an organizational social phenomenon. Using empirical data, various forms of organizing menstrual activist interests are discovered, analyzed, and systematized. The aim of the paper is to demonstrate how social movements are structured not only through certain constellations of organization but also how a certain degree of organization is essential for their emergence. From this perspective, classical comparisons of organizations and movements as social systems are dismissed, and a detailed examination of the phenomenon of organizing social movements is undertaken.

The application of a theoretical-empirical process through qualitative interviews with menstrual activists, supported by the extensive data analysis, resulted in an observational toolkit that can be applied to analyze the density of  organization. In her theoretical-empirical analysis, Teresa Löckmann demonstrates how various forms of social action surrounding menstruation in Germany evolve from initially scattered activities into cohesive social movements or organization-like structures, eventually maturing into distinct entities that constitute their own field of action within the broader social movement context. The theoretical foundation is taken from Luhmann's understanding of organizations as systems of interlinked decisions. This approach is supplemented by theoretical concepts from the predominantly English-speaking literature, such as "partial organization" (Ahrne/Brunsson) or "organizationality" (Dobusch/Schoeneborn). The integration of different scientific perspectives allows for the identification, differentiation, and systematization of organizations and other 'unconventional' forms of organizing.

Based on this profound analysis of organizational actions in social movements, the study also provides a well-documented insight into the recent history of the destigmatization of menstruation as part of the women's movement.


Pauline Boos

Reform and Politics: On the Failure of Post-bureaucratic Reforms in Ministries (Doctorate within the scope of the project Organizational Implications of Digitization - Expected Completion: July 2024)

What mechanisms lead to the failure of post-bureaucratic reforms in ministries? This question is examined by Pauline Boos in her monographic dissertation through a qualitative case study. Especially in the context of digital transformation, demands are placed on ministerial bureaucracy to become more agile, in order to cope with increased societal complexity and to make better and faster decisions. At the same time, the diagnosis of resistance within the administration towards organizational changes persists in politics, professional circles, and academia. Pauline Boos takes these observations as an opportunity to investigate this resistance to change. To do so, she utilizes a power-theoretical perspective centred on micropolitical games within the organization, but expands at crucial points to include neo-institutional and ultimately system-theoretical references.

The case study conducted in the dissertation, which traces the (failed) reform of two innovative units in a ministry based on approximately 30 qualitative interviews, forms the basis for identifying three mechanisms that contributed to the failure of the reforms. The dissertation not only addresses important questions regarding concrete change initiatives in ministries, but also fundamentally discusses the relationship between politics and administration and its organizational implications for the ministry. Pauline Boos not only develops theoretically guided theses on the failure of post-bureaucratic reforms in the ministry in her dissertation but also provides practical recommendations for action.


Annika Koch

Religious norms and holidays in schools – exploration informal organizational practices using the documentary method (working title)

Freedom of religion and prohibition of discrimination is a fundamental right in Germany. Simultaneously, school organizational structures often align with secularized Christianity, such as Christian holidays. Dealing with religious norms and celebrations in multi-religious schools can pose challenges and contradictions in this context. For instance, conflicts may arise when parent-teacher meetings are scheduled on important holidays of religious minorities. Teachers may express concerns about students' decreased performance during Ramadan, or they may struggle to effectively discuss religious norms with students. Annika Kochs dissertation project addresses such everyday contradictions and challenges.

Guidelines from school authorities usually do not concern the handling of religious norms and celebrations. In the absence of formal regulations, informal rules and school cultures develop within organizations, often without conscious reflection.

In her dissertation, Annika Koch aims to reconstruct these informal rules through interviews with teachers, school social workers, and students. She utilizes the documentary method to render the implicit knowledge of the participants explicit and accessible for reflection.


Marcel Ehrenreich

Communication Barriers in Police Investigation Procedures – An Organizational Sociological Perspective

This dissertation addresses communication barriers within the police organization. Specifically, Marcel Ehrenreich is interested in organizationally induced information losses in police investigation procedures. He suspects these losses occur due to the different areas of responsibility for, on the one hand, evidence collection at the crime scene and, on the other hand, the subsequent investigations based on that evidence. He is interested in whether and why relevant information from the crime scene (evidence) does not make its way into later investigations. Theoretically, Ehrenreich utilizes approaches from the field of organizational sensemaking and the perspective of everyday dealings with formality and informality in bureaucratic organizations.

He collects his data through semi-narrative interviews, which he will subsequently analyse both in terms of content and sequence. For the latter, Ehrenreich employs the methodology of objective hermeneutics. He conducts interviews with police officers from various organizational areas of both protective and criminal policing.