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Individualised development in high-performance sports (in:prove)

Duration: December 2021 - November 2025
Funding: German Federal Institute of Sport Science 
Lead: Prof. Dr. Karsten Krüger (JLU, Speaker), Prof. Dr. Karen Zentrgraf, Prof. Dr. Lena Wiese (Goethe Universität Frankfurt), Prof. Dr. Markus Raab (DSHS Köln), Prof. Dr. Michael Mutz

In high-performance sports, training, medical and psychological care, nutrition, regeneration and environmental conditions must be tailored more than ever to the individual requirements of the athletes in order to optimally promote their performance development. The research network "Individualized Performance Development in Sport" (in:prove) deals with the promotion of individual athletes in an interdisciplinary and practical way. To this end, the consortium cooperates with numerous sports associations and practical partners. The social science perspective on individualized development and support considers, among other things, performance-relevant environmental conditions as well as career-relevant decisions of the athletes. These include, for example, the composition of teams and training groups, social support services in the sporting and personal environment, financial incentive structures, but also individual decisions for or against a "dual career", e.g. starting a university program alongside competitive sport. Information on the project can be found at

Examining physical activity and sports behavior in the face of Covid-19 pandemic (SPOVID Project)

Duration: seit März 2020
Lead: Prof. Dr. Michael Mutz, Prof. Dr. Anne K. Reimers (Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg)

The study aims to investigate the change in physical activity in the German population during the course of the corona pandemic. The measures used to contain the virus have an enormous influence on activity and sporting behavior of the entire population. With the help of representative survey data from several surveys (October 2019, April 2020, October 2020), it is possible to reconstruct how exactly these measures have affected the physical activity of the German population and which population groups have reduced or maintained their activity level. In this context, questions of social inequality and regional differences are also addressed. In addition, the question will be addressed as to which alternatives to club-organized sports and gym training have been tried out during the pandemic and whether these new forms and formats of activity will become established.

Sport in the Hessian penal system

Duration: January 2020 - December 2021
Funding: Hessian Ministry of Justice
Lead: Prof. Dr. Michael Mutz, Dr. Johannes Müller

The project aims at questioning prisoners in Hessian correctional facilities about their sports and exercise activities in prison by means of a quantitative survey. Of particular interest here are the prisoners' use of the prison's sports facilities, what kind of sports are offered and what aspects of physical and mental health are correlated with sports activities. In addition, it will be investigated why some of the prisoners do not use the sports facilities and how the amount of sports and physical activity has changed compared to the time before imprisonment.

Organised Sport and Social Capital – Revisited (OSSCAR Project)

Duration: January 2018 - December 2020
Lead: Prof. Dr. Ulrike Burrmann, Prof. Dr. Sebastian Braun (both HU Berlin), Prof. Dr. Michael Mutz

With the help of a nationwide representative population survey, the research project "OSSCAR" investigates to what extent clubs and especially sports clubs, as the quantitatively most popular form of organization in civil society in Germany, can contribute to social cohesion and the (re)production of social capital. On the basis of a representative online survey of the adult population (N=2568), which was completed in January 2018, statistical correlations and regularities between different forms of participation in (sports) clubs on the one hand and central dimensions of social capital on the other hand will be analysed. These include social trust, social support , but also values and political attitudes. On the one hand, the analyses focus on the comparison of individuals who participate in sports clubs with persons who participate in another association and persons without club membership. On the other hand, comparisons are made with population data from 2001 to assess trends.

Sport behind bars: Reconstruction of the meaning of sports activities in prison from the perspective of the inmates

Duration: January 2018 - December 2020
Lead: Dr. Johannes Müller (Habilitation project)

According to the German Federal Statistical Office, in 2017, approximately 64,000 people are imprisoned in in Germany. Sport is anchored in all prison laws of the Federal States and is an integral part of everyday prison life. In accordance with the legal requirements, prisoners have the opportunity to engage in sports activities on the outside facilities, in gymnasiums or fitness rooms of the prisons during their free time. In larger German prisons, there are even separate sports clubs for the prisoners. The habilitation project aims to elaborate the meaning of (prison) sport from the subjective perspective of the inmates by means of ethnographic observations, personal communications, and guided interviews. The research project is flanked by a weekly sports program in a prison.

Political activism and political socialization in football fan culture

Duration: December 2016 - December 2017
Funding: International Centre for Sports Studies
Lead: Markus Gerke (in cooperation mit Melissa Forbis, University New York Stony Brook)

This qualitative research project deals with the German Ultra scene as a place of political activism and political socialization. For several years, Ultra groups have been "fan-politically" active: They protest against decisions of the DFB, leagues and clubs and stand up for their interests as fans. Beyond purely soccer-related concerns, political and ideological conflicts are also a recurring feature of the Ultra scene: While some groups take a stand against racism, sexism, homophobia and discrimination, right-wing populist to extreme right-wing positions predominate in other Ultra groups. Based on ethnographic observations and qualitative interviews with members of the scene, this project pursues the following research questions: How are members within the scenes politically socialized? How does political commitment emerge that goes beyond the fan context? What factors lead to the fact that certain political and ideological positions prevail in different scenes?

Effects of high-performance sport on the collective identification of citizens

Duration: October 2015 - May 2017
Funding: German Federal Institute of Sport Science
Lead: Prof. Dr. Michael Mutz

Sporting mega-events such as the Olympic Games or the FIFA World Cup reach an audience of millions in Germany. Most of the viewers identify with the athletes and teams of their own country. Victories of "our" athletes generate joy and pride for the majority of viewers, while defeats are associated with disappointment and sadness. German athletes and German national teams embody the nation and become an outstanding anchor point of national belonging for the duration of a major sporting event. We will examine these effects of high-performance sport on the collective identification of citizens in detail. In addition to some experimental studies, the focus will be on a representative population survey around the 2016 Summer Olympics and the UEFA EURO 2016. Our investigation will focus on three questions: How do major sporting events affect (a) the collective identification and national affiliation of citizens and (b) sociopolitically relevant attitudes and orientations, such as social trust, solidarity or xenophobia. Finally, the aim is to (c) identify mechanisms through which possible effects are generated.  

Quantitative measurement of children's physical activities: Gender differences in social and ethnic milieus

Duration: March 2015 - March 2017
Funding: Ministry of Education and Culture of Lower Saxony
Lead: Prof. Dr. Michael Mutz

The research project deals with gender differences in children's everyday sports, play and physical activities. The behavior of children is recorded in terms of scope, intensity, content, and context using objective measuring methods and structured interviews suitable for children. On the one hand, the quantitative data allow for a multi-layered description of the gender differences in children's movement activities, on the other hand, they allow for a differentiation of these differences according to socioeconomic living conditions and for ethnic milieus. The project is part of the Lower Saxony research network "Gender-Knowledge-Power-Body". The aim of the research network is to use three triangulated studies to explore children's and parents' internalized ideas of gender-related normality in the context of the body and physical activity and to analyze family social practices that pre-structure or consolidate gender patterns.

Second Evaluation of the Federal Program "Integration through Sport"

Duration: May 2013 - December 2013
Funding: Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge
Lead: Prof. Dr. Ulrike Burrmann (TU Dortmund), Prof. Dr. Sebastian Braun & Dr. Tina Nobis (HU Berlin), Prof. Dr. Michael Mutz

The "Integration through Sport" program aims to involve people with an immigrant background in club-based sports and to use sport to promote their integration into society. In view of the program's broad reach and broad financial support, a profound and ongoing program evaluation is needed. The aim of the second scientific evaluation is to obtain information on the goals, measures and effects of the program on the basis of qualitative interviews with the federal and regional coordinators as well as with selected officials in the sponsored sports clubs. Since the first evaluation in 2007/08, the further development of the program has been a particular focus of interest: How were recommendations for action received, used to develop the content and profile of the program and implemented in the work of the clubs "on site"?