The Project

During this project we will examine religious and non-religious worldviews of people who aren’t capable of sustaining their lives on their own because they lack the financial means and are therefore dependent on government support. The project will look at multiple research sites in Europe and the UK in order to compare experiences internationally. Research participants are equipped with few material resources, hence their participation in society is restricted along with their ability to control their own lives. They are threatened by economic and social exclusion and stigmatisation and are confronted with experiences of insecurity and precariousness to a large degree. At the same time, these individuals are dependent on the support of society.

Find our project information sheet here: Information Sheet


Latest Publication

The collective review "Religious actors, ideas and interests in the welfare state", written together with Marc Breuer (Paderborn, Germany), was [...]


Dr. Kornelia Sammet
Dr. Kornelia SammetPrinciple Researcher
Dr. Kornelia Sammet is the principle researcher on this project. She is a sociologist based in Germany. Her work has focused mainly on how people experience and deal with unemployment and underemployment. She will oversee the project and will lead research in Ireland and other European sites.
Franz Erhard
Franz ErhardResearch Assistant
Franz Erhard is research assistant on this project, and is currently working towards his doctorate at the University of Leipzig, Germany. He is a sociologist of culture and interested in how unemployment and underemployment influence people’s relationship towards other people and the world in general. Along with Johanna, he will conduct most of the interviews in England.
Alexander Mennicke
Alexander MennickeStudent Assistant
Alexander Mennicke is student assistant on this project. He studies Cultural Sciences and is working on his Masters Thesis at Leipzig University, Germany. This project gives him the opportunity to deepen his research skills.
Charlotte Nate
Charlotte NateStudent Assistant
Charlotte Nate is also student assistant on this project. She studies Cultural Sciences and Philosphy. In this project, she gets a first notion of what social science is about.
Dr.Giselle Vincett
Dr.Giselle Vincett Former Mercator Fellow
Dr. Giselle Vincett was the project’s Mercator fellow during 2016 and 2017. She is based in Canada now and supported the project with important knowledge about the british social system. Also, she made contact with some of the research sites. Her research has focused on young people in England and in Scotland and how they cope with challenging issues in their lives. She’s also looked at how and what people believe and how they act out their beliefs in their everyday lives. We want to thank Giselle for her exceptional work.
Johanna Häring
Johanna HäringFormer Student Assistant
Johanna Häring was student assistant on this project. She has just finished her Masters degree at Leipzig University, Germany. This project allowed Johanna to gain some valuable work experience and contributed towards her own research. She still supports our project now and then during fieldwork.
Almuth Richter
Almuth RichterFormer Student Assistant
Almuth was student assistant on this project. She has studied Political Sciences and Sociology. In this project Almuth she gained important knowledge about the pracital side of scientific work.

Research Approach

The starting point of our research design is that the social conditions of our respondent’s lives affect their world views. The targeted group of job seekers, working poor and recipients of benefits are especially interesting, since they suffer from low material and symbolic ressources, high risks, exclusion, social isolation and stigmatisation. They are exposed to the harms and insecurities of life. To live in social conditions like this affects the ways the concerned persons see their lives and the world around them. A comparison of different countries seems to make sense to us, since poverty means something different in varying contexts.  To be poor implies differing concequences, depending on your cultural and social background.

The Qualitative Paradigm

Following these ideas, we’ve decided to choose a qualitative paradigm to guide our research. Instead of testing hypotheses we want to approach our data freely and in an unique interpretive way. We don’t want to attribute certain world views to variables or factors (urban-rural, confession, regions of high unemployment), but develop theories which are grounded in den interview data. Therefore, theoretical sampling as it is known from Grounded Theory Methodology will guide our sampling. We’re not mainly interested in statistical representativity, but theoretical saturation, which will be achieved by specifically drawn comparisons. That means, we will define the range of varying context conditions by choosing cases from different areas and countries. This will guarantee a wide array of life conditions.

At the Core: The Comparison

We will achieve a theoretical saturation and ccontrasting cases by several stays in the field. This way and by comparing the different cases, we will cover a spectrum of lives in poverty and how people deal with it. The comparision will inspire and ‘surprise’ our theoretical journey into the field of poverty studies. It is a heuristical means, that allows new theoretical insights.


c/o KFG ‘Multiple Secularities’

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04109 Leipzig

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