Jointly towards New Perspectives
Jointly towards New Perspectives

Jointly towards New Perspectives

Anthropology and sociology are being united in a new study programme at the University of Konstanz.

To date, a key criteria for distinguishing between anthropology and sociology rests on a specific concept of social space that distinguishes ‘us’ from ‘non-European others’. Starting with the coming winter semester (2016/2017), the University of Konstanz will offer a new master’s programme, "Anthropology and Sociology" that aims at overcoming this long-standing but outdated division of labour between these two disciplines. This master’s programme will be the first in the German speaking world to combine general anthropology and general sociology.

Points of contact between anthropology and sociology have long existed regarding questions of development, modernisation, globalisation and migration. More recently, there has also been an increase in cross-cutting methodological debates informed by a shared interest in ethnography. However, these shared academic interests are usually only briefly referred to in accounts about the history of science where the distinction between the two disciplines played no central role, such as in the "Chicago School", or when making reference to the 'founding fathers' of social theory, such as Marcel Mauss or Émile Durkheim, and more recent disciplinary go-betweens such as Pierre Bourdieu and Bruno Latour. Overall, however, the systematic merging of anthropology and sociology remains a desideratum, at least in the German academic landscape.

The master's programme "Anthropology and Sociology" unites the core theoretical concepts of both disciplines in a research-based and present-day oriented study programme. "It is designed to increase understanding and analysis of contemporary phenomena in a way that could not be provided by either discipline alone", says Professor Thomas Kirsch, who developed the programme in conjunction with Professor Judith Beyer.

This approach allows students to gain new insights: Whereas anthropology enables an 'external' perspective on one's own society by focussing on, in most cases but not only, non-European societies, sociology contributes theoretical and methodological stimuli that are often neglected in German anthropology. "Students will thus not only be given the opportunity to understand important current debates in both disciplines and learn to critically reflect on them, but they will also become familiar with current debates from other disciplines and locations to develop new perspectives and innovative research questions," says Judith Beyer.

With its interdisciplinary, anthropological-cum-sociological profile, the study programme thus provides students with job opportunities in two normally separated professional fields. In addition to an academic career, students are equipped with skills to later on work in the fields of culture management, media or adult education; further, students are enabled to engage in applied social research, such as in project management, international development, migration and refugee work, or intercultural organisational and policy advice.

The four-semester study programme "Anthropology and Sociology" at the Department of History and Sociology at the University of Konstanz will begin in the winter semester 2016/2017. Applications are open to graduates with a bachelor's degree in anthropology, sociology, or related fields.