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New research project on political activism in elite sport

As part of the application phase for 2024, the Federal Institute of Sport Science is funding the research project: "Political Activism and Self-Determination of Female Athletes in Elite Sports: Problems, Forms of Action, Potential for Support". The two-year project will use a systematic content analysis to describe the topics and forms of political participation in elite sport. It will then use a representative online survey to investigate the extent to which certain demands and actions by female athletes are supported by the public.

New book on prison sports

The book "Sport in the total institution - a prison ethnography" by Dr. Johannes Müller has just been published by Springer VS. Based on several years of ethnographic research in a prison, the book explores the multi-layered meanings of sport for inmates. The findings show that sport proves to be a coping strategy for alleviating the stresses and strains of imprisonment by providing moments of freedom and opportunities to counteract the feelings of fear, loneliness, boredom, and mental depression that are typical of imprisonment. In addition, sport is an effective means of constructing or defending masculinity, enhancing self-esteem, and positioning oneself in the social hierarchy among prisoners. In this way, the book provides fascinating insights into a world to which very few people are otherwise granted access.

Guest Lecture by Dr. Jannika John on 23.1.2024

The department welcomes Dr. Jannika John (University of Tübingen) for a guest lecture on 23.1.2024. The title of her talk is "Diamonds only form under pressure? The importance of critical life events in sports careers". Jannika John is a junior research group leader for social science research on elite sport and investigates, among other things, the conditions under which human excellence is achieved. She also looks beyond the boundaries of sport and compares the conditions that lead to top performance in music, mathematics or sport. The lecture will take place in the lecture hall of the Kugelberg campus (main building). Guests are welcome!

Upcoming Guest Lecture with Prof. Jennifer A. Reich

We will continue the virtual lecture series "Global Classroom" with another top-class guest lecture on 11.7.2023. This time we have Prof. Dr. Jennifer A. Reich (University of Colorado Denver) as our guest. She is one of the leading international researchers in the field of health sociology. With her lecture "From Parents' Vaccine Refusal to COVID Vaccines: Understanding Vaccine Hesitancy, Community Health, and Trust", the sociology professor, who teaches and researches in Denver, will address an extremely topical issue. The talk will take place via the Zoom platform; the dial-in link will be here about a week before the talk.

Project report published: "Sport and health in the Hessian penal system"

The project "Sport and Health in the Hessian Prison System" was concluded with a short report on the results. The report contains key descriptive findings on sports offerings, participation in sports, and correlations with key characteristics of prisoners' health. The study was based on a survey of prisoners in 12 Hessian correctional facilities.

Guest Lecture with Prof. Felix Kühnle

On January 24, 2023, there will be a guest lecture with Prof. Dr. Felix Kühnle (TU Darmstadt) on the topic "Depression in elite sports - sociological diagnoses". Prof. Kühnle was awarded the Science Prize of the German Olympic Sports Confederation in 2020 for his work on depression. He will present his research during the lecture 'Sozialwissenschaftliche Grundlagen des Sports', which will take place at 4 p.m. (lecture hall B 030, Phil II). Interested guests are welcome!

Football in the focus of the German Sociological Association's Blog

The German Sociological Association (DGS) has been successfully running its own blog for several years. In November and December, the so-called SozBlog ( discusses current topics around the FIFA World Cup in Qatar - from corruption in FIFA, to the motives of the hosts, to political protests. Michael Mutz (JLU Gießen), Christiana Schallhorn (JGU Mainz), Henk Erik Meier (WWU Münster) and Markus Gerke (Middlebury College, USA) will be blogging. 

Doctoral thesis completed: Markus Gerke

With a dissertation entitled "Activism among Organized Fans of Professional Soccer in the US. An Ethnographic Study of Soccer Supporters' Groups in New York City," Markus Gerke, a former member of the research unit, successfully completed his doctorate at Stony Brook University New York in December 2022. In his thesis, he analyzes the specifics of soccer fan culture in the U.S., which also stands out from the typical fan culture of the 'big' U.S. sports due to the offensive advocacy of (sports) political viewpoints. Prof. Michael Mutz was part of the thesis committee.

Science Blog with a Special Feature on the 2022 FIFA World Cup

The science blog breakthrough reports in a cross-disciplinary special feature on scientific contributions that have a connection to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The Gießen-based sports sociologists Michael Mutz and Markus Gerke were invited to participate. They report on their research in their article "Soccer-related nationalism: Soccer results affect national pride and happiness levels".

Doctoral thesis completed: Kathrin Wahnschaffe-Waldhoff

Kathrin Wahnschaffe-Waldhoff has successfully completed her doctorate at the University of Göttingen with a dissertation on the "Acquisition and interpretation of fairness norms in professional football". In her thesis, she reconstructs what professional football players perceive as fair and unfair and how they adapt their moral orientations to the systemic demands of competitive soccer. The doctoral thesis was supervised by Michael Mutz.

Guest Lecture with Dr. Rebecca Pearl, 14.6.202

On 6/14/2022, another virtual guest lecture took place as a continuation of the "Global Classroom" lecture series. This time, Dr. Rebecca Pearl (University of Florida), one of the leading international researchers on the stigmatization of people with obesity, spoke. The topic of her talk was "Weight Bias and Stigma: Implications for Physical Activity." The event and the subsequent discussion were attended by 150 students - we are very happy about the great resonance!

Funding of the research network "Individualized performance development"

The Federal Institute of Sport Science is funding a new joint project that is looking into the possibilities of providing top athletes with individual support and assistance. Individual support and optimization can relate, for example, to training design, nutrition, regeneration, but also to environmental and living conditions, such as stress due to 'dual careers' or social support in the personal environment. Different sports science disciplines contribute their expertise to the research network. Social science issues are the main focus of Prof. Mutz's department. More information can be found in a press release (7.12.2021, in German).

Final "Global Classroom" lecture with Dr. Neftalie Williams

To conclude the lecture series, we have Dr. Neftalie Williams (University of Southern California) as a guest in the "Global Classroom". He will speak on 22.06.2021 at 19:00 (c.t.) on the topic "Exploring Race and Diversity in Skateboarding Culture". Neftalie Williams is a scholar, skateboarder, activist, board member of the Tony Hawk Foundation and the first and only "skateboarding diplomat" of the US State Department. He researches identity, ethnicity and empowerment in the skateboarding scene.

3rd Global Classroom-Lecture with Prof. Rosie Meek

The "Global Classroom" lecture series continues on 14.06.2021 at 18:00 (c.t.). Our guest is Prof. Rosie Meek (Royal Holloway University London, UK), psychologist and one of the world's leading researchers in the fields of prison sociology and crime prevention. In numerous qualitative and quantitative studies as well as interventions, Rosie Meek has dealt with sport and health in prison as well as the sporting activities of delinquent youth. She will speak on the topic of "Sport in Prison".

2nd Global Classroom-Lecture with Prof. Jim Sibthorp 

Our "Global Classroom" lecture series goes into the second round. On May 19, 2021 at 19:00 (c.t.) the next lecture will take place. Our guest is one of the leading scholars in the field of adventure and experiential education, Prof. Jim Sibthorp (University of Utah, USA). As a professor for "Parks, Recreation & Tourism", Jim Sibthorp has been working for many years from an interdisciplinary perspective on outdoor, adventure and sports programs as well as corresponding interventions and their effects on personality development, health and well-being or group cohesion. He will speak on the topic of "Youth development and outdoor education".

Kick-off for Global Classroom-Lectures with Prof. Belinda Wheaton

On May 11, 2021, at 7:00 pm (c.t.), there will be a guest lecture followed by a discussion with Prof. Belinda Wheaton (University of Waikato, New Zealand) on the topic of "Surfing, environmental sustainability, and the paradox of social change". Belinda Wheaton is a cultural and sports sociologist and one of the most renowned experts in the field of "lifestyle sports". She conducts research on sports scenes and youth cultures such as surfing, skateboarding and parkour. 

Changes of sports behavior in Germany in the Covid-19 pandemic

The Social Science of Sport research unit has published first representative findings on the change in sports behavior in the German population during the Covid-19 related lockdown in March and April 2020. The results indicate a significant decrease in sports activity. At the same time they show that some population groups have succeeded in quickly adapting their sports behavior to changed conditions, e.g. by using digital media for sporting activities. Furthermore, the findings show that forced inactivity was associated with reduced well-being. Links to the papers can be found here: "Sport and exercise in times of self-quarantine: How Germans changed their behaviour at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic" (Int. Journal for the Sociology of Sport); "Forced adaptations of sporting behaviours during the Covid-19 pandemic and their effects on subjective well-being" (European Societies); "Use of digital media for home-based sports activities during the Covid-19 pandemic" (Int. Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health).

Research and consulting projects on "Sport in the penal system"

The Hessian Ministry of Justice is supporting a research Project on the sports activities of prisoners. With the help of a quantitative study in 2020, data will be collected on organized and informal sports activities in Hessian prisons. One focus of the study is, among others, the question of how sports activities are correlated with health indicators. At the same time Dr. Johannes Müller has been appointed by the Ministry of Justice of Lower Saxony as a specialist advisor on "Sport in the prison system". His responsibilities include advising the Lower Saxony correctional facilities as well as the Ministry of Justice on content and concepts in all matters concerning sports in prison. The appointment was made for a period of 4 years.

New Book Series "Sport - Society - Culture"

From 2020 on, Springer VS will publish a new social science book series under the title "Sport - Society - Culture" which analyzes sport with its manifold references to contemporary society and culture. The book series is jointly edited by Prof. Sebastian Braun, Prof. Ulrike Burrmann (HU Berlin) and Prof. Michael Mutz (JLU Gießen). The first book in the series by Benjamin Zander and Jörg Thiele, "Jugendliche im Spannungsfeld von Schule und Lebenswelt," reconstructs sports-related experiential spaces of adolescents and is available since December 2020.
Marketing flyer of the book series (in German) 

Giessen football research receives attention from China 

Three recent papers by Prof. Michael Mutz have been translated into Chinese and published in the Journal of Beijing Sport University. The articles deal with current developments in European associational football ("Who wins the championship? Market value and team composition as predictors of success...", with Jürgen Gerhards) and with effects of major footbal events on wellbeing at the national level ("Life satisfaction and the UEFA EURO 2016: Findings from a nation-wide longitudinal study in Germany").