DFG PostDoc Research Project

June 2017 – September 2019 at State University New York, University at Albany, US with Prof. Steven Messner

With my research fellowship, I was able to substantially enhance and extend the research agenda formulated in my original research proposal and also broaden my focus of research by establishing collaborations on related topics. I worked on a total of 13 projects during the project period, with nine papers being published as of now and three others completed (and currently under review). Regarding the main objective of the proposal, my host Steven Messner and I were able to enhance the scope conditions of the marketized mentality (“MM”) approach considerably. One main focus was on applying the concept in multilevel settings and analyzing its relations with relevant macrolevel indicators. These analyses revealed that the relation of MM with socially problematic outcomes appears not only for Germany – as previously shown – but also for a vast majority of countries in a world sample. Moreover, we enhanced the scope of relevant socially problematic outcome variables by focusing on prejudices toward different groups that can be seen as “economically burdening” such as immigrants and old persons. Moreover, we uncovered significant relations between MM and outcomes much closer to the original scope of IAT: criminal behavior (self-reported deviance) as well as the justification of criminal behavior. Another extension that is highly worthwhile to pursue in future research pertains to applying the mechanism to the context of one of the main non-economic institutions – the school. This shift from the cultural/institutional level of societies to the social-organizational level of analysis of the school within societies yielded the finding that the anti-social effects of MM on criminal behavior are amplified as organizational anomie in the form of competitive/egoistic school climate and dysfunctional performance of schools increases. Moreover, the studies developed and introduced two country-level measures informed by IAT and analyzed their relations to the individual-level manifestation of MM. On the one hand there is the measure of an “institutional imbalance,” capturing a theoretically strategic imbalance in the institutional structure of a society, the dominance of the economy combined with comparatively weak non-economic institutions such as the polity. In line with our expectations, we find that marketized mentalities are particularly widespread in societies high in institutional imbalance. On the other hand, we created the aggregated “marketized mentality” measure as a measure of the societies´ cultural context. The inclusion of this latter concept turned out to be highly beneficial for the explanation of high prejudice rates as it appeared to be tapping into an emergent, macro-level property – a “marketized anomic culture.” Over and above these main insights related to the original project proposal, I was able to finalize two co-authored general overview articles on Institutional Anomie Theory. Finally, I used the Research Fellowship to broaden my research focus by conducting research on the phenomenon of hate crimes/crime motivated by bias. In three papers in different contexts (European countries, US Metropolitan Areas, German Bundesländer) we have contributed to this research by analyzing and introducing indicators of a “hostile social climate,” and interracial marriage rates, as well as analyzing how a signal event such as extreme immigration influx triggers amplified threat perceptions resulting in increased hate crime rates.

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