In Germany, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS), through a funding program, is contributing significantly to strengthening independent social politics research. In fact, on 27 February 2023, the BMAS published a new call for funding for junior research groups of the Interdisciplinary Social Politics Research Funding Network (FIS – Fördernetzwerks Interdisziplinäre Sozialpolitikforschung).
For an informed socio-political discourse to exist, in fact, it is necessary to analyze changes in society and the world of work, observing their effects on the current social state and socio-political arrangements. Good politics is also determined by a committed scientific environment that is able to recognize changes in society and can describe their effects in an independent and analytical way.
Which are the objectives of the funding?
The BMAS has set itself the goal of increasing the capacity for social politics research in Germany and creating knowledge on politics and social rights issues that are socially and politically meaningful. Thanks to this funding, outstanding young researchers have the opportunity to obtain a university professorship for a socio-political topic at a German university. The professorship is awarded for a period of three years, with the possibility of a further two-year extension.
Which areas and topics are eligible for the funding?
The Interdisciplinary Social Politics Research Funding Network (FIS) supports research in Germany in the fields of political science, law, sociology, economics, history and social ethics. The topics eligible for funding come from the point number 1.1 of the funding guidelines for the “Promotion of research and teaching in the field of social politics” dated 3 May 2016. The topics on which the funding focuses are:
- Investment and social benefit of social politics: the focus here is on the effects of social politics measures on economic development and their contribution to social cohesion in times of transition.
- Social dimension of climate politics: proposals examine the social political issues of ecological transformation. They may concern the effects of measures taken at a level that is both political and individual.
- Regional disparities and social politics: the goal is to study the disparities that can be found in different regions and what impact they have on participation and social cohesion.
- Migration and integration: in order to study social and labour market policy in its accessibility to foreigners, with a focus on the qualification of workers in Germany.
Who can access the funding?
The FIS is aimed at higher education institutions (namely universities and universities of applied sciences). These institutions have to apply for the funding by participating in the call for applications and the procedure to obtain the professorship is carried out based on the approval of the application. The professor will be nominated by spring 2024. Until today, 36 research projects, 8 junior research groups, 8 research chairs and the German Institute for Interdisciplinary Social Policy Research (DIFIS – Deutsches Institut für Interdisziplinäre Sozialpolitikforschung) have been funded by BMAS.
Who will have the possibility to have access to the research results?
Social Policy Research Funding (FIS) is used to cover:
- Tenured professorships
Who will apply for the funding must submit a plan that specifically explains how the funds will be used over the duration of the whole project. In addition, they must endeavor to prepare their results in such a way that they are usable not only for a specialized audience, but also for all those with no technical knowledge who are interested in the topic. For this reason, the research results will also be published on the Internet, so that they are accessible to everyone.
How much is the funding and what does it cover?
The amount of funding varies depending on the position that the applicants will obtain. It can amount up to a maximum of EUR 300,000 for a W2 or W3 position, and up to a maximum of EUR 200,000 for a W1 position. In Germany, the amount of the teachers’ salary can be divided into three different levels, which increase with increasing experience: the W1 level concerns junior teachers, while the W2 and W3 levels concern all other teachers who are civil servants. In most cases, professors in universities of applied sciences are paid according to W2, whereas in larger locations with a prestigious reputation it is more common for a professor to be paid according to W3.
Funding is provided by the Bundestag (German Federal Parliament) and the BMAS reserves the right to decide, depending on the budgetary situation, whether to grant funding on an annual or multi-year basis.
The Social Policy Research Funding covers all expenses that are necessary to achieve the objective of the grant. Again, it is the funding guidelines for the “Promotion of research and teaching in the field of social policy” of 3 May 2016, in point 4.3 that specify what exactly the funding covers. The expenses that are covered concern not only administrative and personnel costs of the chair, but also expenses for possible business trips and basic equipment.