Marie Jahoda Summer School of Sociology

I would like to begin my blog entry about the summer school with a tribute to the Marie Jahoda, one of the most influential and important sociologists from Austria.

Foto of Marie Jahoda
© Archiv für die Geschichte der Soziologie in Österreich

She was born 1907 in Vienna to a Jewish family. In her youth she experienced the economic crisis, mass-unemployment and poverty of the interwar years. As a young woman she became engaged in the socialist party and social-democratic youth organisations. In 1928 she got her teaching diploma and finished her doctor in philosophy. In 1931 she began to work for the groundbreaking Austrian Research Unit for Economic Psychology, founded by her husband Paul F. Lazarsfeld. It was at this time she did the research which made her famous: Marienthal. The Sociography of an Unemployed Community. With great effort and the courage for innovative research methods the study shows the effects of mass-unemployment on the population of a small town near Vienna. Notable was the role of the researchers in the field. They did not only act as passive observers but tried to provide help to the inhabitants of Marienthal.

In 1937 Marie Jahoda had to flee the fascist Austria. From Great Britain she continued to support the resistance against the National Socialists. To honour Marie Jahoda for her fight against fascism, for the struggle for the improvement of the living conditions of the workers and for her great contributions to Austrian sociology the summer school is named after her.

The aim of the summer school is to offer PhD students and early stage researchers the possibility to discuss their research projects and to get feedback from renowned experts. During one week a mixture of lectures, discussions, public keynote speeches and social events allows for scientific exchange in a friendly atmosphere. The first Marie Jahoda Summer School was held in 2011 on the culture of the modern economy. Due to its great success it was repeated in the following years, covering such topics as the balance of work and family, migration and inequality and public spaces in transition. Each year renowned scholars from around the world give keynote speeches at the summer school, in the last couple of years we were able to welcome Arlie Hochschild (University of California, Berkely), Axel Honneth (University of Frankurt), Stephen Castles (University of Sydney) and Ash Amin (University of Cambridge).

The title of the 2015 summer school is The Global Digital Workplace – New Ways of Working, New Forms of Labour. The event takes place from July 6th to July 10th and is held in close cooperation between the Department of Sociology (University of Vienna) and the COST Action IS 1202:Dynamics of virtual work. It will focus on changes that are brought to the world of work through transnationalization of value chains and digitization of information and work. These processes have contributed to new dynamics of job relocation, shifting international divisions of labour, new forms of cooperation over distance and new opportunities to integrate geographically distributed work processes. Entirely new types of ‘summerschooldigital’ or ‘virtual’ labour have been brought forth by these changes, both paid and unpaid.

The Marie Jahoda Summer School will explore recent developments of digital work and labor within corporations, along global value chains and over the internet. In this context new questions arise. How are workers’ identities shaped? What are their individual and collective reactions to these new forms of work? How do boundaries between paid and unpaid work shift? What do these processes mean for the gendered division of labor? Does the shifting international division of labor provide new perspectives for labor markets and development in the Global South? To what extend is work embedded in particular localities?

Every day of the Summer School focuses on one specific topic. Experts in the respective fields will give an introductory lecture and will comment the papers and presentations of the trainees. Besides Professor Jörg Flecker (University of Vienna) who is the host of the summer school, Dr. Ernesto Noronha (Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad), Dr. Premila D’Cruz (Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad), Dr. Bridget Conor (Kings College London), Prof. Ursula Huws (University of Hertfordshire) and Prof. Rudi Schmiede (Technical University Darmstadt) will each act as host for one day. A great variety of topics will be covered, such as the global cultural economy, capital accumulation in digital economy or the trade unionization of India’s virtual workers to name just a few. Keynote speakers of the next Marie Jahoda Summer School will be Prof. Ursula Huws (University of Hertfordshire) and Prof. Saskia Sassen (Columbia University).

The deadline for applications is February 28th 2015. This year the cooperation with the COST Action offers the unique possibility to give flat rate grants to participants from COST member countries. For any further information please have a look at the homepage of the Marie Jahoda Summer School of Sociology.


Franz AstleithnerFranz Astleithner studied sociology and economics in Vienna. Currently he is a PhD student and university assistant at the Department of Sociology, University of Vienna.

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