Prof. Dr.

Holger Lengfeld

Institut für Soziologie


University of Leipzig,
Institute for Sociology
Beethovenstraße 15
04107 Leipzig

Room H3 1.10
Telephone +49 (0)341 / 97-35640 (Secr.)
E-Mail holger.lengfeld[at]

Office Hours: During lecture time in the summer semester 2017: Wednesday, 11:00-12:00 am. Appointment necessary, please contact: muellers[at]

Fields of Research

  • Sociology of European Integration
  • Social Stratification, Inequality & Social Justice
  • Economic Sociology & Sociology of Organisations

Curriculum Vitae

Current Appointment

  • Professor of Sociology - Institutions and Social Change -, University of Leipzig
  • Research Fellow, German Institute for Economic Research – Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung Berlin (DIW)


  • 2008 Post-doctoral lecture qualification (Habilitation, Venia Legendi Sociology), Freie Universität Berlin. Habilitation thesis (in German): “Class, Organisational Structure, and Social Inequality: An Analysis of the Social Structure Using the Example of the USA”
  • 2003 Ph.D. (Sociology), Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Doctoral thesis (in German): „Co-Determination and Social Justice in the Firm”
  • 1998 Diploma, Political Science, Freie Universität Berlin
  • 1994 Diploma, Business Administration, Berlin School of Economics and Law
  • 1989 Secondary Education, Büchner-Gymnasium Berlin

Previous Appointments

  • 9-12/2014 Guest Researcher at University of Oxford, Department of Social Policy and Intervention
  • 2010-2014 Professor of Sociology – Macrosociology and Political Sociology-, University of Hamburg
  • 2006–2010 Professor of Sociology –“Ernsting’s Family”-Chair of the of Contemporary Societies, University of Hagen
  • 2004-2006 Assistant Professor, Freie Universität Berlin
  • 2004 Senior Researcher, University of Vienna
  • 1998-2004 Research Assistant, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Further Professorship Offers

  • 2012 Professor of Sociology, University of Kiel (declined)
  • 2011 Professor of Sociology - Empirical Social Stratification Research -, University of Duisburg-Essen (declined)


Solidarity in European societies: empowerment, social justice and citizenship (SOLIDUS)

Principal investigators: Prof. Dr. Holger Lengfeld (Leipzig) and 13 partners from 11 European countries; coordinator: Prof. Marta Soler (University of Barcelona); in collaboration with Freie Universität Berlin

Research assistants (Leipzig): Florian Kley, M.A.; Lennart Selling, B.A.

Funded by: Horizon 2020 (2.5 Mio. €; Leipzig share: 511.140 €)

Duration: 01.06.2015 - 31.05.2018

Website: Solidus Official Homepage

SOLIDUS is part of the research program “EURO-3-2014 European societies after the crisis” funded by Horizon 2020, a research and innovation programme of the European Union. Among Leipzig, there are partners from 13 different European Countries involved in the whole project.

Research Questions:
The current crisis has led to a loss of trust in European institutions. While the question of a rising European society is mainly discussed in the context of a European collective identity, little attention is paid to acts of solidarity and attitudes toward transnational solidarity within Europe. The SOLIDUS-Project, funded by the European Union, is trying to shed light on questions concerning European solidarity in several areas: spatial dimension of solidarity, inter- & outgroup-solidarity, activating social citizenship, gendering social policies and combating social exclusion. While broadening the knowledge and understanding of solidarity, the project also aims at working out strategies to foster and strengthen solidarity through policy-actors and public administration.

Overall, the SOLIDUS Project has the following objectives:

Get a better understanding of European solidarity in different fields of social life.
Examine psychological, political, cultural and socio-economic factors influencing solidarity.
Examine the expressions of solidarity and explore new approaches of identity transcending the nation-state conception of citizenship.
Contribute to policy-making to foster European solidarity.

Research Methods:
Beside several qualitative studies conducted by other project partners, Leipzig is responsible for conducting the ‘Transnational European Solidarity Survey’ – TESS to be carried out in 13 European countries. For each country, approximately 1000 completed interviews will be realized among respondents eligible to vote and aged 18 or older that will be chosen from national standard list assisted random digit dialing (RDD) and interviewed using CATI technique.

Recent Publications:

  • Gerhards, J./ Lengfeld, H. (2015): European Citizenship and Social Integration in the European Union. Routledge: New York and London.
  • Lengfeld, H. / Schmidt, S. / Häuberer, J. (2015): Is there a European solidarity? Attitudes towards fiscal assistance for debt-ridden European Union member states. Institut für Soziologie der Universität Leipzig. Arbeitsbericht des Instituts für Soziologie Nr. 67 (April 2015).
  • Gerhards, J./ Lengfeld, H./ Häuberer, J. (2014): The EU Crisis and Citizens’ Support for a European Welfare State. Berlin Studies of the Sociology of Europe (BSSE) No. 30.
  • Gerhards, J./ Lengfeld, H. (2013): Wir, ein europäisches Volk? Sozialintegration Europas und die Idee der Gleichheit aller europäischen Bürger. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.
  • Gerhards, J./ Lengfeld, H. (2013): European Integration, Equality Rights and People’s Beliefs: Evidence from Germany. European Sociological Review 29 (1): 19-31.



Project Middle Classes, Institutional Change and Status Uncertainty (ProMIS)

Principal investigator: Prof. Dr. Holger Lengfeld

Research assistants: Stephanie Pravemann, M.A.; Katharina Müller, M.A.

Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (413.000 €)

Duration: 15.02.2015 - 14.02.2018

ProMIS is part of OIKON, a project group located at the Center of Globalisation and Governance (CGG) at the University of Hamburg.

Research Questions:

Since the early 1990s, profound institutional changes can be observed in the labor market, welfare state, and wage policy, such as the increase of flexible employment, changes in social security schemes and variable payment. These changes are associated with the extension of employment-related risks, weaker upward mobility and income fluctuations. At the beginning of the 21st century, signs of status uncertainty in the middle classes became apparent, which are characterised by the fear to lose one’s own wealth position. It is assumed that the described changes have led to an institutional non-complementarity within the German model of coordinated capitalism, which caused an increase of status uncertainty and a fear of falling, especially in the middle classes.

ProMIS will raise the following research questions:

  1. To what extent do people perceive the institutional arrangement described above as non-complementary, and to that extent does it affect subjective status uncertainty, especially for the middle classes?
  2. What is the impact of these perceptions on long-term binding choices in the life course?
  3. What are people’s beliefs about re-complementation, meaning the restoration of the institu-tional balance?
  4. How do institutional variations at the nation-state level impact the relationship between institutions, perceived status uncertainty, and behavioural consequences for different social classes?

Research Method:

Based on a theoretical clarification of the relationship between these institutional changes and emerging (non-)complementarities in Germany we will develop assumptions about how social classes differ in perceiving and coping with these changes. Subsequently, two CAWI surveys based on a randomly stratified sample of 3000 German adults belonging to the workforce will be carried out.

First Publications:

  • Lengfeld, H. (2012): Paradoxien des Kapitalismus: Effekte variierender Arbeitsmarktinstitutio-nen auf Unsicherheitsempfindungen von Beschäftigten, in Soeffner, H.-G. (Hg.): Transnationale Vergesellschaftungen. Verhandlungen des 35. Kongresses der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie. Wiesbaden, VS-Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften (CD-ROM).
  • Lengfeld, H./Kleiner, T.-M. (2009): Flexible Beschäftigung und soziale Ungleichheit – Eine Synthese des Stands der Forschung. Arbeit, Zeitschrift für Arbeitsforschung, Arbeitsgestaltung und Arbeitspolitik 1: 46-62
  • Lengfeld, H./Hirschle, J. (2009): Die Angst der Mittelschicht vor dem Abstieg. Eine Längsschnittanalyse 1984-2007. Zeitschrift für Soziologie 38, 5: 379-399.



Fiscal Solidarity in the EU

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Holger Lengfeld

Researchers: Dr. Julia Häuberer, M.A. Soc. Sara Schmidt (both University of Hamburg)

Funded by: University of Hamburg (39.402€)

Duration: 2012 - 2014

Research Questions:

Against the backdrop of the ongoing European debt crisis, our research project analyzes attitudes of European citizens toward transnational fiscal solidarity. The debt crisis has led the Eurozone to enact different fiscal rescue funds which can be interpreted as a step toward institutionalized fiscal solidarity between the EU member states. We ask to what extent and under which circumstances European citizens of two Eurozone countries - Germany as a loaning and Portugal as a receiving country- support this new mode of transnational redistribution.

Our survey examines in further detail the following questions:

  • Do citizens of both countries support fiscal help for EU-member states facing financial trouble?
  • What motives do citizens have to support or deny solidarity?
  • What infringements on national sovereignty are supported by the citizens of recipient countries in order to receive emergency funds?
  • To what degree are EU citizens willing to directly pay into a transnational solidarity fund?
  • Are there socio-economic or cultural cleavages emerging? And if so, are they enough to spark political conflict in the two countries affecting support of transnational solidarity?

Research Methods:

The project relies on a quantitative survey conducted in Portugal and Germany (N (country) = 1000). Respondents were chosen from national standard list-assisted random digit dialing (RDD) created samples. Data collection was carried out by the research institute TNS Europe using CATI-design. The survey was conducted in summer 2012. 

First Publications: 

Holger Lengfeld, Sara Schmidt und Julia Häuberer (2012): Solidarität in der europäischen Fiskalkrise: Sind die EU-Bürger zu finanzieller Unterstützung von hoch verschuldeten EU-Ländern bereit? Hamburg Reports on Contemporary Societies (HRCS), 5. Online:

Holger Lengfeld; Sara Schmidt; Julia Häuberer (forthcoming): „Fiskalpolitische Solidarität in der Europäischen Union: Erste Befunde einer Umfrage 2012 aus Deutschland und Portugal. (Fiscal Solidarity in the European Union: First Results of a German and Portuguese Survey 2012.)“ in: Löw, M. (Ed. in p.p. of the DGS): Vielfalt und Zusammenhalt. Verhandlungen des 36. Kongresses der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie. Wiesbaden.



Passages from Employment to Studies (PETS)

Applicants: Prof. Dr. Holger Lengfeld (Principal Investigator), Prof. Dr. Markus C. Arnold (Univ. Bern), Prof. Dr. Alexander Bassen, Dr. Christine Zöllner (both (Univ. Hamburg)

Researchers: Dr. Tobias Brändle, Jessica Ordemann, M.A., Kathrin Sondag, B.A., Stanka Cascone, B.Sc.

Funded by: The project is funded by the joint “Federal-state Program for Better Study Conditions and More Quality in Teaching” of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research under grant number 01PL12033. Funding volume is 530.000 €

Duration: 04/2012 - 06/2015

Research Questions:

The increase of the permeability between occupation and academic education is a part of Germany’s education policy and other OECD-countries. One option is opening the institutions of higher education to students without a general qualification for university entrance (“Abitur”). Doing so enhances the heterogeneity of functional and instrumental competence, academic and occupational experience as well as expectations to studies within the student body of the universities. This is especially challenging during the introductory phase of Bachelor studies. The amount of students without Abitur is very low (less than 2 %), though. Not until the late 2000s the Länder laws on higher education have been modified to admit “non-traditional” students – without Abitur but with vocational education and following work experience – to universities.

The following questions are addressed in the project:

  • How do success in studies and duration of studies vary between traditional and non-traditional students during the introductory phase? Which school- and occupational-biographic as well as socio-economic (relating to social background) causes can explain found differences?
  • How do reasons for studying and perception of learning commitment, perceived problems during learning as well as strategies of planning of studies deviate in regard to different access paths to studies?
  • To what extent are traditional and non-traditional students working during their studies?

Research Methods:

The Department of Socioeconomics at the Universität Hamburg has a nationwide, unique, long-time tradition in educating students with vocational qualification. Currently up to 40 % (per term about 140) of university places are assigned to students with vocational qualification without Abitur and to students with subject-specific university entrance diploma after passing the entrance examination. We compare the anonymized study courses of traditional and non-traditional students. In addition we interview up to three student cohorts at the beginning of their studies and after completing the introductory phase by using a standardized questionnaire.

First results’ report:



Jürgen Gerhards/Holger Lengfeld (2015): European Citizenship and Social Integration in the European Union. London: Routledge. [revised and translated version of “Wir, ein europäisches Volk?”, see below.]

Jürgen Gerhards/Holger Lengfeld (2013): Wir, ein europäisches Volk? Sozialintegration Europas und die Idee der Gleichheit aller europäischen Bürger [We, the people of Europe? Social integration of Europe and the Idea of Equality of all European Citizens]. Wiesbaden: Springer VS

Holger Lengfeld (2010): Klasse Organisation soziale Ungleichheit. Wie Unternehmensstrukturen berufliche Lebenschancen beeinflussen [Class – Organisation – Inequality. How Firm Structures Influence Occupational Life Opportunities]. Wiesbaden: VS

Holger Lengfeld (2007): Organisierte Ungleichheit. Wie Organisationen Lebenschancen beeinflussen [Organised Inequality. How Organisations Influence Life Opportunities]. Wiesbaden: VS

Journal Articles

Kristin Rieger, Mandy Vogel, Christoph Engel, Uta Ceglarek, Kristian Harms, Ulrike Wurst, Holger Lengfeld, Matthias Richter, Wieland Kiess (2018): Does physiological distribution of blood parameters in children depend on socioeconomic status? Results of a German cross-sectional study. BMJ Open, 8(3), 1-8.

Holger Lengfeld, Martin Kroh (2016): Solidarity with EU countries in crisis: results of a 2015 Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) survey. DIW Economic Bulletin 39: 473-479.

Jürgen Gerhards, Holger Lengfeld, Julia Häuberer (2016): Do European citizens support the idea of a European welfare state? Evidence from a comparative survey conducted in three EU member states. International Sociology 31, 677-700.

Tobias Brändle, Holger Lengfeld (2016): Drifting Apart or Converging? Grades Among Non-traditional and Traditional Students Over the Course of Their Studies: A Case Study from Germany. Higher Education (online first): DOI 10.1007/s10734-016-0010-3.

Holger Lengfeld, Jessica Ordemann (2016): The Long Shadow of Occupation: Volunteering in Retirement. Rationality and Society 28, 3–23.

Tobias Brändle, Holger Lengfeld (2015): Erzielen Studierende ohne Abitur geringeren Studienerfolg? Befunde einer quantitativen Fallstudie [Do Students without General Qualification for University Entrance Show Poorer Academic Performance? Findings of a Quantitative Case Study]. Zeitschrift für Soziologie 44, 447-467.

Holger Lengfeld, Clemens Ohlert (2015): Do Internal Labour Markets Protect the Unskilled from Low Payment? International Journal of Manpower 36, 874-894.

Jürgen Gerhards, Holger Lengfeld (2013): European Integration, Equality Rights and People’s Beliefs: Evidence from Germany. European Sociological Review 29, 19-31.

Jürgen Gerhards, Holger Lengfeld (2009): Europäisierte Chancengleichheit? Einstellungen zur Öffnung des deutschen Arbeitsmarkts für EU-Ausländer [Europeanised Equal Opportunity? Attitudes on the Opening of the German Labour Market to EU Foreigners] Berliner Journal für Soziologie 19, 627-652.

Holger Lengfeld, Jochen Hirschle (2009): Die Angst der Mittelschicht vor dem Abstieg. Eine Längsschnittanalyse 1984-2007 [Fear of Social Decline of the German Middle Class – A Longitudinal Analysis 1984-2007]. Zeitschrift für Soziologie 38, 379-398.

Jürgen Gerhards, Holger Lengfeld (2008): Support for European Union Environmental Policy by Citizens of EU-Member and Accession States. Comparative Sociology 7, 215-241.


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