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Research projects

Payment Methods in Motion. A Mixed-Method Investigation on the Social Embeddedness of Cash and Cashless Payment Instruments

In recent years everyday payment behavior has undergone a rapid transformation in most countries of the European Union.  Cash is increasingly displaced by non-cash, “digital” payment methods (Debit- and Credit Card, Payment Apps). Whereas, in Austria, such a decline in the use of cash as a daily payment instrument cannot be observed. In contrast to less developed European countries, the high share of cash payments – measured in frequency and volume – is not attributable to lacking technological infrastructure for such digital payment systems. Therefore, the aim of the present research project, funded by the Austrian Science Fund, is to investigate, from the perspective of Economic Sociology and the Sociology of Money, what contributes to this wide-spread preference for cash over non-cash payment methods. In order to empirically investigate this question, a qualitative pre-study will be conducted, which will be utilized to develop a standardized survey. In collaboration with the Institut für Empirische Sozialforschung (IFES, Vienna), we will then survey a representative sample of the Austrian residential population (N=2000) about the everyday social and cultural embeddedness of cash and non-cash payment methods.  The investigation will focus three major research dimensions to study the day-to-day interactions with different payment methods sociologically. First, we will investigate the attitudes towards cash and non-cash payment methods. Second, we will look into subjective expectations of liquidity with cash and non-cash payment methods in different payment situations. By that, we mean the certainty people have in their expectation that a specific payment instrument will actually be accepted for payment (e.g., card payment at a farmers market). Lastly, we will study the influence by different institutionalized payment situations (buying goods on markets, sharing or donating money in communities, being coerced to pay fines). To study the impact of our mutually dependent research dimensions (attitudes towards different payment methods, subjective expectations of liquidity, and institutionalized payment situations) on the preference for payment instruments, we will carry out a structural equation model. With that in mind, we anticipate substantial insights into the social and cultural conditions for the change of day-to-day payment practices. At the same time, we expect further sociological discoveries in regard to the social foundations of modern monetary orders.

Funding body: FWF

Duration: April 2023 to March 2026

Project team: Klaus Kraemer (head), Nico Tackner (research associate), Jakob Gasser, Luka Jakelja

Social embeddedness as a constitutive component of market entrance and market establishment in the consulting business. An economic sociological analysis

The dissertation project elaborates on the question which sociological components have an impact on succeeding or failing of consulting providers in the process of market entrance and market establishment. In this context, the agents’ notion define the terms of succeeding and failing.

1) It is to be investigated how new consulting providers and demanders get into business on the market given conditions of uncertainty. This part focuses on the cooperation problem of economic sociology.

2) The examination of co-production between suppliers and demanders constituting services aims at clarifying in what way interaction in the organization has feedback effects on further market events.

3) With regard to business advisory firms, the study investigates which organizational sociological issues affect success or failure in the process of market entrance and market establishment. Research linking organization and market (part two and three) is a desideratum of economic sociology, which is limited by its approach to market action.

4) Another research gap of economic sociology is that it solely views market events in economically stable times. Consequently, this thesis pursues an examination of purchasing companies (healthy business development versus crisis) and their expectations for the future when deciding on consulting. Additionally, different types of consulting are taken into account: providers specializing on companies either in formal (IT consulting, etc.) or material mode (restructuring advice, etc.), or providers operating independently of these modes (tax advice, etc).

Start of project: April 2022

Financing: university funds

Dissertations project by Linda Ahlers-Hirschmann


Value and Price Formation of Collectibles in the Tension between Community and Marketization. An Economic Sociological Study of the Trading Card Game "Magic the Gathering"

In recent years, an increasing popularity of collecting can be identified. Communities are emerging around collectibles that arrange, assess, examine, exchange, buy and sell them in both physical and digital space. The dissertation project deals with the social conditions of value and price formation in the secondary market of Magic the Gathering. Based on a qualitative methodological design, the project aims to gain insights into the various forms of meaning and sensemaking of the different actors and their practices.

Duration: 2021-2025

Dissertation project by Jakob Gasser


Apollo – Business Decision Excellence for self-improving Enterprises

Various processes in modern enterprises get already captured and evaluated via performance indicators. A major exception from this trend are decisions by the executive leadership. Because of this, Apollo aims at developing a software, that tracks processes of decision-making, but also delivers AI-powered feedback for optimizing entrepreneurial decisions. The Department of Sociology works in the course of this project on the following questions: First, which concepts from the field of Economic Sociology are useful for optimizing decisions-making and at the same time are suitable for quantitative measurement? Second, how can these be measured quantitatively on the basis of text data (i.e., meeting minutes)? Third, which methodological consideration have to be reflected in such types of data collection and analysis? And finally, how can the developed indicators be prepared for the use by practitioners?

Funding body: FFG

Duration: 2022-2024

Project Team: Univ.-Prof. Dr Klaus Kraemer (Head); Nico Tackner, MA (Research Associate)

Project partners: APOLLO.AI and Research Studio Data Science


​​​​​​​Money and Professions. A Sociological Study of Professional Money Attitudes

The dissertation project looks at the overlapping field of money and professions. The question is raised, what role money plays especially in the medical field and how it influences the medical profession. Empirical work is undertaken by conducting qualitative interviews and providing an insight in the various forms of meaning medical doctors attribute to money and how money shapes their understanding of medicine.

Duration: 2018-present

Dissertation project by Luka Jakelja


Solidarity Barometer Styria - Extension until 2023

The Solidarity Barometer is an ongoing quantitative-empirical research project since 2017, funded by Caritas Styria and recently extended until 2023. In the course of the research project, approximately 1,000 citizens of the province of Styria are surveyed annually by telephone on a wide range of topics. The annual surveys focus on topics such as loneliness, social cohesion, solidarity-nation-social state or volunteering. The research project aims to investigate the persistence and change of solidarity-based action over time.

Funding body: Caritas Steiermark

Duration: 2017-2023

Project team: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Klaus Kraemer and Dr. Dr. Florian Brugger


WeDecide - Digitization and Operationalization of Decision Processes

In this project, organizational sociological foundations of corporate decision-making under conditions of uncertainty and complexity will be elaborated. A systematic review of the state of research in Organizational Studies will clarify the question to what extent economic decision-making processes can be supported by the use of software. What is its role in the context of strategic decisions that go beyond the information problem to include evaluation or judgment problems? How can software support the communication and implementation of decisions that have already been made? What is its contribution to the evaluation and reflection of the decision-making process and what are the limits of its use? An FFG follow up project is being planned.

Funding body: FFG

Duration: 01.06.2021 - 30.11.2021

Project leader: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Klaus Kraemer

Project Team: Wolfgang Mayer, MA (Research Associate)

Project partner:  APOLLO.AI


Trusted money? A Sociological Study on Money Knowledge, Money Trust and Money Use

In the context of financial- and currency crisis the question of trust becomes evident. In times of rising uncertainty the fragility of trust and confidence in the monetary system and in money itself can be observed. Trust is assumed to be a significant social resource for economic action. However, the effects of a confidence crisis (a decline of trust) on the usage of money and the role knowledge (or various degrees of ignorance) about money play in this regard, have not been empirically investigated yet. Therefore three questions are raised in the proposed project: What do Austrian citizens know about the monetary system (money knowledge) (1)? What effects do various degrees of knowledge (and ignorance) about money (1) have on the trust and the confidence in the monetary order (money trust) (2)? How do money knowledge (1) and money trust (2) influence the usage of money (money usage) (3)? Especially the usage of money shall not only be analyzed regarding the economic money functions, moreover, they are extended by sociologically relevant usages of money.

Funded by the Anniversary Fund of the Austrian National Bank [Grant Number 17080].

Duration: 2016-2019

Project Team: Klaus Kraemer (Head), Luka Jakelja, Florian Brugger, Sebastian Nessel

Kraemer, K., L. Jakelja, F. Brugger, S. Nessel (2022), The Social Ambiguity of Money. Empirical Evidence on the Multiple Usability of Money in Social Life. In: Review of Social Economy, Vol. 80. https://doi.org/10.1080/00346764.2022.2076150 OPEN ACCESS

Kraemer, K., L. Jakelja, F. Brugger, S. Nessel (2020), Money Knowledge or Money Myths? Results of a Population Survey on Money and the Monetary Order. In: European Journal of Sociology 61 (2), 219-267. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0003975620000119 OPEN ACCESS

Kraemer, K. (2019), Geld als Institution. Eine Kritik der Vertrauenshypothese. In: Mittelweg 36. Zeitschrift des Hamburger Instituts für Sozialforschung, Jg. 28, Heft 3-4, 50-74. https://www.hamburger-edition.de/zeitschrift-mittelweg-36/alle-zeitschriften-archiv/artikel-detail/d/2510/Perspektiven_der_Geldsoziologie/13/


Labor market inclusion of people with disabilities. A survey of Styrian entrepreneurs on indicators of success

The aim of the study is to identify obstacles and new ways of inclusion of people with disabilities in the Styrian labor market. Special attention is paid to the difficulties perceived by entrepreneurs of Styrian SMEs in integrating the target group into operational production and work processes. What are the success factors of entrepreneurial pioneers in the labor market integration of people with disabilities? What influence do legal-institutional, industry-related, company-organizational and social-individual framework conditions have? What are suggestions of entrepreneurs for improving the chances of people with disabilities for sustainable labor market inclusion? What practicable inclusion strategies can be derived from the empirical findings?

Funded by the Province of Styria, Department of Labor and Social Affairs

Duration: 2018-2019

Project team: Klaus Kraemer (head), Luka Jakelja (researcher), Katja Röhm, Jakob Gasser, Nico Tackner, Julian Flores (student research assistants)


On the current state of consumer research in Austria

Against the backdrop of international developments in consumer research, this project develops a deeper sense of the consumer research field in Austria. It aims to help sharpening the self-perception of individual and collective actors in Austrian consumer research, to establish their understanding of a common research field, and to encourage a closer cooperation between research organizations, and between the scientific community, political actors and practitioners.  On this basis, the potentials of establishing and institutionalizing consumer research are explored. To do so, this project analyses the current state of consumer research in Austria through an empirical survey, asking about: (1) the actors involved in the development of the field and those considered central in it, as well as their perception of the field of consumer research in Austria, (2) the existing research areas and perceived research gaps from the perspective of politics (federal ministries), science and the organizations involved in consumer issues (AK, VKI). The survey (3) will also result in detailed assessments of the activities of the actors involved in the Austria consumer research field. 

Supported by Chamber of Labor Vienna

Duration: June 2016 until February 2017

Project managers: Dr. Sebastian Nessel (University of Graz) and PD Dr. Michael Jonas (IHS Vienna)


The European Banking System - An Economic Sociological Analysis

The European banking system is in one of its deepest crises. Research from the fields of economics, political science and economic sociology analyzes individual banks, subsections of the European banking system and individual national banking systems. However, an economic sociological analysis of the European banking system is missing to date. This dissertation project analyzes to what extent and how specific constellations of ideas and interests have influenced the historical development of the European banking system. In particular, it focuses on the constellations of ideas and interests that led to the formation of the current banking system and its susceptibility to crises.

Dissertation project by Florian Brugger


Wine and Meat. An Economic Sociological Investigation of the Emergence and Establishment of Status Markets on the Basis of the Styrian Wine and Meat Market

In recent economic sociological research, "standard markets" are distinguished from "status markets" (Aspers) and markets for mass consumer goods from "markets of the unique" (Karpik). While producers and consumers in standard markets are presumably guided by price signals, decisions in status markets are influenced by socially constructed quality conventions. In status markets, it is not low prices that are decisive for buying, nor "information" about the products, but "judgments" and status expectations. Typical status markets are wine markets, art markets, music markets, gourmet markets, but also, for example, markets for special medical, therapeutic, legal or scientific services. Research has so far ignored to clarify under which conditions standard markets transform into status markets and why such a transformation is unlikely for other standard markets. In this research project, which is supported by the Styrian Chamber of Agriculture, we empirically investigate why the wine market in southern Styria has undergone a social metamorphosis from a standard to a status market over the last three decades, whereas the regional meat market has consistently returned to a standard market regime even after severe crises. The study focuses on local producers as well as intermediary institutions and organizations.

Duration: 2015-2017

Project management: Klaus Kraemer, Florian Brugger

Master theses: Luka Jakelja, Anja Möstl, Siegfried Scheicher


Children's use of money. Analyses of the sociology of money

In economic theory, money has traditionally been described as a unit of account, as a means of exchange and payment, and as a store of value. Orthodox approaches have not yet gone beyond such a definition of different "money functions" derived from economic acts of exchange. Even the sociological classics from Max Weber to Georg Simmel assigned money a central role in the study of modern societies. However, sociology has largely followed economic theory, from Parsons to Habermas to Luhmann, which assigns money exclusively economic functions. Based on the theory-guided consideration that, in addition to the well-known "economic functions of money," a number of "non-economic" uses of money can be distinguished (Kraemer 2015), more than 320 elementary school children were surveyed about their everyday use of money as part of a research workshop for master's students at the Department of Sociology. The "Science and Research" department of the Office of the Styrian Provincial Government is providing financial support for the analysis of the data collected and the publication of the research results.

Project date: 2014

Project team: Klaus Kraemer and Florian Brugger (project managers), Luka Jakelja, Siegfried Scheicher


Consumer organizations and markets

Since the 1950s, consumer organizations (COs), such as Stiftung Warentest and the Verbraucherzentralen, are a central part of the institutional architecture of markets in Germany. Besides these state funded organisations, since the 1980s, private COs have been established to represent consumer interests. The economic sociological literature has not yet examined COs and their effects on markets; unlike, for example, research in political science and economics. Therefore, three questions were at the center of the economic sociological analysis of COs: Which strategies do German COs pursue to represent consumer interests? How can varying strategies be explained? What effects do these strategies have on markets? To address these questions, detailed case studies of five selected COs in Germany were outlined. In a cross-case comparison of five consumer organizations, their strategies and conditions of action were then compared. Finally, classical approaches of economic sociology were extended by examining the effects of CO strategies on market objects, market participants and market competition. The data is gathered through 28 original, qualitative interviews and the analysis of numerous documents. As a result of the project, a conceptualization of markets including the demand side using the example of CO was presented.

The research project was part of the dissertation of Sebastian Nessel. It was partially funded by a research grant from the University of Graz. Resuls appeared in a 2016 monograph in the series „Wirtschafts und Gesellschaft“, Springer („Verbraucherorganisationen und Märkte. Eine wirtschaftssoziologische Untersuchung“).

Duration: 2011-2014

Realization: Sebastian Nessel


Assessing the socio-economic and socio-structural distributional effects of climate policy strategies at the household level

Anthropogenic climate change is a major challenge of the 21st century. In the international climate change debate, different strategies are discussed to limit climate change (mitigation) or to adapt to the expected changes (adaptation). In addition to new industrial production concepts and technological innovations, changed everyday practices are seen as indispensable in order not to miss ambitious climate protection targets. This research project investigates the question to what extent the various instruments and measures of climate protection affect socially unequal life chances of different population groups. In particular, the socio-economic and socio-structural distributional effects of selected municipal climate policy strategies on private households are empirically investigated using the cities of Frankfurt/M. and Munich as examples. The research project is located at the interface of environmental and inequality sociology. It focuses on the following questions: Which climate policy strategies and instruments reinforce socio-economic disparities in industrial societies, which have a distributionally neutral effect, and which reduce social inequalities? How are the social effects of decarbonizing urban supply systems to be assessed from the perspective of social justice? How can undesirable social effects be avoided? To what extent can (possible) negative distributional effects be compensated for private households in precarious wealth situations?

The research project is part of the research consortium KlimaAlltag "Climate change and everyday actions: potentials, strategies and instruments for low-CO2 lifestyles in the zero-emission city".

Partners of the research consortium: ISOE, Frankfurt / IÖW, Berlin / VZ NRW, Düsseldorf.

Practice partners: City of Munich and City of Frankfurt/M.

Sponsor: BMBF, Duration: 2011-2014

Project Team: Klaus Kraemer (Head), Se-Jun Kim, Florian Brugger (student research assistant)


Sociology of Financial Markets

Sponsor: University of Graz

Duration: 2011-2012

Project team: Klaus Kraemer (Head), Sebastian Nessel

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