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Department of Social Sciences
Project funded by Volkswagen Foundation

Wealth as a Social Relationship. Intergenerational Aspects of the Familial (Re)Production of Wealth

In this cooperation project with SOFI Göttingen, we take an empirical look at wealthy families by conducting qualitative family interviews. The unique characteristic of our project is that we understand wealth not only as the economic situation of individuals, but above all as a dynamic field of social relationships. We are interested in what values and traditions are important in wealthy families and how they are passed on. We also ask how wealthy families view our society and how they live responsibility and social engagement. We also explore the social stereotypes associated with wealth and assets.

Are you interested in talking to us? Then contact us by e-mail at:
maya.halatcheva-trapptu-dortmundde or benjamin.neumanntu-dortmundde

We will also be happy to call you back. The conversations are covered by data protection. Any inference to you and/or your family is excluded by the comprehensive anonymization and secure storage of the data.

Logo Wealthproject. Diamond with net-grid inside and Projecttitle on the right © Hannes Haynitzsch


Volkswagen Foundation, Funding line "Perspectives on Wealth: The (Re)Production of Wealth“


In Kooperation mit dem Soziologischen Forschungsinstitut Göttingen (SOFI)

Project team

Project leaders

Prof. Dr. Nicole Burzan, TU Dortmund

Prof. Dr. Berthold Vogel, SOFI Göttingen

Staff members

Dr. Benjamin Neumann (TU Dortmund)

Dr. Maya Halatcheva-Trapp (TU Dortmund)

Dr. Marliese Weißmann (SOFI Göttingen)

Student members

Fenja Horstmann (TU Dortmund)

Elisabeth van Haaren (TU Dortmund)

Paulus Gkegkas (TU Dortmund)

Hannes Haynitzsch (SOFI Göttingen)

Ella Brink (SOFI Göttingen)


Burzan, Nicole/Vogel, Berthold (2023): Reichtum. Ein Forschungsessay. Soziopolis (13.07.23).  [Online]



Announcement: Burzan, Nicole/Halatcheva-Trapp, Maya (2024): Reichtum als soziale Beziehung. Potentiale und Herausforderungen einer qualitativen Reichtumsforschung. Vortrag im Rahmen der Sektion Soziale Ungleichheit, Österreichische Gesellschaft für Soziologie, FH Wien der WKW, Wien 21.03.2024 

Announcement: Neumann, Benjamin/Halatcheva-Trapp, Maya/Weißmann, Marliese (2024): Reichtum und Familie: Ein intersektionaler Blick auf familiale Beziehungen im Film. Tagung "Reichtum. Filmanalytische Sondierungen eines kulturellen Phänomens“, am 16. und 17. Februar 2024, Universität Koblenz.

Announcement: Burzan, Nicole/Vogel, Berthold (2024): Sozialstrukturanalyse, Ungleichheit und Reichtum. Podiumsdiskussion, organisiert von Prof. Dr. Peter Imbusch, 16.01.2024, Bergische Universität Wuppertal.

Burzan, Nicole (2024): Statuserhalt im Kontext von Familienbeziehungen aus ungleichheitssoziologischer Perspektive. Ringvorlesung „Familienunternehmensforschung zwischen wissenschaftlicher Genauigkeit und unternehmerischer Relevanz“, Universität Witten/Herdecke, 05.01.2024.

Halatcheva-Trapp, Maya/Weißmann, Marliese/Neumann, Benjamin (2023): Wealth as a Social Relationship. Intergenerational Aspects of the Familial (Re)Production of Wealth. Symposium "Perspectivies on social inequality and wealth", am 04. und 05. Oktober 2023, Xplanatorium Herrenhausen, Hannover.




Organization of the symposium "Perspectives on Social Inequality and Wealth" on 04 and 05 October 2023 in Hannover, together with the Volkswagen Foundation.

The event brought together the Volkswagen Foundation's funding lines on social inequality and wealth, with researchers* from Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America coming to present and jointly discuss their research findings. In addition to project presentations, intensive collaboration took place in workshops on topics such as research concepts, methods and the transfer of empirical results.


On January 10, 2024, Prof. Dr. Nicole Burzan gave the lecture "Status maintenance in the context of family relationships from an inequality sociological perspective" as part of the lecture series of the Witten Institute for Family Business (WIFU) "Family business research between scientific accuracy and entrepreneurial relevance" at Witten/Herdecke University.

She reported there on the results of the completed DFG research project "Status maintenance in the ‘social middle’: intergenerational stability in occupational fields of the middle class'". Preliminary empirical impressions from the project "Wealth as a social relationship" also played a part here.


At the inter- and transdisciplinary conference "Reichtum. Filmanalytische Sonderiungen", Benjamin Neumann, Maya Halatcheva-Trapp and Marliese Weißmann presented research findings on representations of wealth in film on February 15, 2024. The conference took place from February 14 to 16, 2024 at the University of Koblenz.

From an intersectional perspective, interrelationships between different dimensions of inequality (ethnicity, class, gender, dis/ability, etc.) were examined and presented with regard to the narrative staging in various film productions. In addition, the lecture discussed different socio-political spaces of possibility that arise from various cinematic ambiguities.


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On 28.02.24, the project team organized an all-day workshop to which Dr. Nora Kottmann from the VW Foundation was also invited. In this context, we first presented an interim review of previous empirical findings from the field and reflected on these in theoretical and methodological terms. The second part of the internal workshop focused on a literature-based discussion of previous findings and their linkage.

The results of this workshop will be presented at conferences and in publications later this year.


Nicole Burzan and Maya Halatcheva-Trapp were invited to give a lecture at the Vienna University of Applied Sciences of WKW on March 21, 2024. They presented the research project and discussed the potentials and challenges of qualitative research on wealthy families. The lecture took place as part of the Urban Future Talk "City and Social Inequality", which is organized in cooperation with the Social Inequality Section of the Austrian Sociological Association and the University of Vienna at FH Wien der WKW. The format brings together stakeholders from different disciplines and institutions.