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In Memory of Thomas Luckmann. A Personal Anecdote.

On May 10th, the influential sociologist Thomas Luckmann who had been Professor of Sociology at the University of Konstanz for almost 25 years passed away at the age of 88.  In his obituary published on, sociologist Dr. Jochen Dreher summarises Thomas Luckmann’s biography and outstanding scientific contribution that went well beyond the realm of academia (excerpt):

Thomas Luckmann is one of the most significant representatives of German after-war Sociology and already during his lifetime has been considered one of classical thinkers of the sociological discipline. His major publications are The Social Construction of Reality (1966) together with Peter L. Berger, establishing a new sociology of knowledge; The Invisible Religion (1967), which refounded the sociology of religion, and the standard work The Structures of the Life-World (1975/1984), initiated by his teacher Alfred Schutz and completed by Luckmann. The Social Construction of Reality is one of the most influential publications of the sociological discipline; the American Sociological Association considers it to be one of the ten most important books in Sociology and it was translated into thirteen different languages.

With the death of Thomas Luckmann, we lose an outstanding and exceptional thinker of the human sciences and one of its finest persons.


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The Emotional Costs and Rewards of Helping Others

Kolb_ohneASToday, we have a special guest at our anthropological colloquium: Ken Kolb, Associate Professor of Sociology, Furman University (South Carolina), will mark the start of the colloquium’s summer term with a talk titled “The Emotional Costs and Rewards of Helping Others”.
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Of Paper Bags, Domestic Violence and Vagina Warriors

I have to admit it: the title is a bit of a clickbait. And in order to go along with the theme, I want to begin the article by stating that there is no way you could ever possibly believe the connection between bakery paper bags and vagina warriors! If you are hooked, you are warmly invited to follow my line of thoughts:

Some time ago when queuing at the university’s canteen, I noticed that the former greyish paper bags lying next to the counter for wrapping sandwiches had been replaced by a more colorful version.

Upon closer inspection, I was quite surprised to find out that this paper bag had way higher ambitions than just keeping your lunch clean: it featured an awareness raising campaign regarding violence against women.

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The Other Side of the Table, or: Teaching Research Ethics

This year’s summer term, for the first time, I gave an undergraduate seminar – just after having come back from my last phase of fieldwork in South Africa. Hence, on top of the challenges of finding my way back into what I like to think of as ‘my German life’, I also had to come to terms with my new professional role and all the strings and joys attached to it.

In this post, I discuss my experiences of switching to the other side of the table, of becoming a lecturer. And that’s already where the uncertainty began that came with my new role: I definitely don’t think of myself as lecturing people and I truly hope I didn’t do it to the small group of students who joined my seminar on research ethics in the last term. Inspired by the legendary character of Mr. John Keating (“I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way”) and admittedly overtly romanticized and probably naively idealized, I’d like to picture myself as a facilitator or moderator on a mission to organize joint excursions of the mind. Read More…