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Action Strategies of the Middle of Society

The research project "Action Strategies of an 'Insecure' Middle Class. A Cohort Comparison" investigated the question how far the crisis diagnosis of an increasingly insecure middle class is accurate.

According to this study, the middle class, despite its economic and educational resources, is less protected from precarious living conditions than it was decades ago; maintaining status (even of one's own children) seems less self-evident in the face of developments such as the deregulation of gainful employment and the restructuring of the welfare state.

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Two methodological approaches - a secondary analysis (longitudinal SOEP data) and open interviews with two occupational groups - were used to investigate how insecure qualified middle-class workers feel and what people do concretely to counter insecurities. Do they fight against them, or are tinkering biographies gaining normalcy?

The qualified middle class is more secure than expected.

According to the quantitative sub-study, major worries about one's own economic situation increased between 2000 and 2011, but neither linearly nor to an enormous extent, nor disproportionately in a strata comparison. Middle strata worry to a medium extent in a strata comparison, with similar trajectories across strata. The analysis of action patterns showed - with methodological limitations - few overarching patterns. It cannot be assumed from a homogeneously insecure middle class.

This is also confirmed by the qualitative sub-study: In addition to one type that feels insecure and fights insecurity accordingly (by themselves or with the help of their partner), there are other types that do not feel insecure professionally or are able to endure professional insecurity well, at least in phases. Accordingly, different patterns of action emerge, which, for example, focus on professional profile building or career or are geared to 'avoiding insecurity' as a priority despite dissatisfaction. It cannot be assumed that there has been a change in habitus toward a widespread normality of unpredictable biographies; despite all the heterogeneity of the cases, expectations of security are often still present. Even if this is not always associated with optimism about shaping or planning for the future, the qualified employed certainly often have the impression that they have resources and options for maintaining their status in the center of society.

Whether these attitudes and patterns of action carry through working life is another question. Therefore, the results do not imply a complete rejection of any crisis diagnosis for qualified workers or the middle class per se.



Prof. Dr. Nicole Burzan



Dr. Silke Kohrs

Ivonne Küsters M.A.

Publications (Selection)

Burzan, Nicole; Kohrs, Silke; Küsters, Ivonne (2014): Die Mitte der Gesellschaft: Sicherer als erwartet? Weinheim: Beltz Juventa

Burzan, Nicole (2014): Unsichere Zukunftsperspektiven in der Mittelschicht? – Methodische Überlegungen und ausgewählte Befunde. In: Behnke, Cornelia/Diana Lengersdorf/Sylka Scholz (Hg.): Wissen – Methode – Geschlecht: Erfassen des fraglos Gegebenen, Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 175-188.

Burzan, Nicole; Kohrs, Silke (2012): Vielfältige Verunsicherung in der Mittelschicht – Eine Herausforderung für sozialen Zusammenhalt? In: Pries, Ludger (Hg.): Zusammenhalt durch Vielfalt? Bindungskräfte der Vergesellschaftung im 21. Jahrhundert. Wiesbaden: VS, 101-119.

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Location & approach

The campus of TU Dort­mund University is located close to interstate junction Dort­mund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dort­mund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is "Dort­mund-Eichlinghofen" (closer to Campus Süd), and from B 1 / A 40 "Dort­mund-Dorstfeld" (closer to Campus Nord). Signs for the uni­ver­si­ty are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dort­mund.

To get from Campus Nord to Campus Süd by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at Campus Nord and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.

TU Dort­mund University has its own train station ("Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät"). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dort­mund main station ("Dort­mund Hauptbahnhof") and Düsseldorf main station via the "Düsseldorf Airport Train Station" (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 20 or 30 minutes). The uni­ver­si­ty is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.

You can also take the bus or subway train from Dort­mund city to the uni­ver­si­ty: From Dort­mund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station "Stadtgarten", usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At "Stadtgarten" you switch trains and get on line U42 towards "Hombruch". Look out for the Station "An der Palmweide". From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dort­mund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dort­mund main station to the stop "Dort­mund Kampstraße". From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop "Dort­mund Wittener Straße". Switch to bus line 447 and get off at "Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S".

The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dort­mund Airport (DTM) to Dort­mund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dort­mund Central Station, you can continue to the university campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of international flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the university station.

The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dort­mund University. There are two stations on Campus Nord. One ("Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S") is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the uni­ver­si­ty directly with the city of Dort­mund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the "Technologiepark" and (via Campus Süd) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at Campus Nord and offers a direct connection to Campus Süd every five minutes.

The facilities of TU Dort­mund University are spread over two campuses, the larger Campus North and the smaller Campus South. Additionally, some areas of the university are located in the adjacent "Technologiepark".

Site Map of TU Dort­mund University (Second Page in English).