Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS)

Group leaders
Statistical Learning and Data Science
Socio-Cultural Psychology
Specific themes and goals

BIGSSS research projects investigate the complex intertwining of multiple inequalities, new political divisions, technological changes, and environmental challenges. Our academic programme aims to investigate the responses of individual and collective actors to these challenges and the manifold crises of social and political integration. In doing so, we seek not only to complement, but also to integrate and further develop the research agendas that are being pursued in Bremen, serving as a focal point where scholars can explore new perspectives. 

  • Social Cohesion: A core research goal of BIGSSS scholars at Constructor University is to contribute to the ongoing attempt to adequately define the concept of social cohesion and to examine its determinants and outcomes. This is essential for the understanding of the functioning of modern societies in a globalized world. Social cohesion is an important precondition for political stability and economic success and thus BIGSSS researchers work to specify determinants and correlates of social cohesion and how to measure them accurately and compare them across regions.
  • Intergroup Conflict: Intergroup conflict is another focus area, and BIGSSS researchers are working to disentangle mechanisms of intergroup conflict by testing different hypotheses derived from game theoretical and social identity perspectives.
  • Societal Change and Migration: Societal change in general and changes in social values, in particular, have always been a core interest of all social sciences. Recently, societal and political developments, such as international migrant flows and political discourses on how to deal with that, have again shown the importance of dealing with social values. Researchers at BIGSSS have been particularly active in that and have turned explicitly to the political debate concerning migration flows in Germany from a social psychology perspective.
Highlights and impact
  • The DFG-Research Training Group (RTG) 2513 Social Dynamic of the Self (SELF) is BIGSSS’ newest PhD program in the social sciences. Since the self and society make each other up in an ongoing cycle of mutual constitution, they need to be studied simultaneously and in concert. SELF focuses on investigating the interactions between individuals and their social environment, providing a platform for early-career researchers from various social science disciplines to study the self’s embeddedness in diverse social systems, ranging in complexity and dynamically changing over time. In addition to their responsible role of counseling BIGSSS PhD-Fellows, researchers from Constructor University are especially engaged in the BIGSSS Method Center and contributed to various research activities between 2019 and 2022.
  • BIGSSS faculty at Constructor University also hosted and co-organized Computational Social Science Summer Schools, one with a thematic focus on Migration (June 2019) at Università degli Studi di Cagliari (Italy) and one on Social Cohesion at University of Groningen. The summer schools followed the idea of a research incubator and brought together experts in computational social sciences and conflict research, and junior researchers. During the summer schools, junior researchers teamed up with senior experts to work through the whole research process on one specific research topic. 
  • BIGSSS has launched a small doctoral programme funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) directed at early-stage researchers from the Global South. With its thematic focus on “Global Inequality, the Middle Classes and the Welfare State” (GloWel), the program aims to strengthen synergies between various regional research initiatives, involving faculty from University of Bremen and Constructor University in the supervision of our students.
Group composition & projects/funding

BIGSSS consists of faculty from Constructor University and the University of Bremen; affiliated postdocs; regular, affiliated and associated PhD fellows. There are currently about 20 PhD fellows affiliated at Constructor University and one Postdoc.

Selected publications
  • Belic, J., Djordjevic, A., Nikitović, T., & Khaptsova, A. (2022). The diversity of value construal: A constructivist approach to the Schwartz theory of basic values. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 35(4), 1276–1300 
  • Arant, R., Larsen, M., Boehnke, K. (2021): Acceptance of Diversity as a Building Block of Social Cohesion: Individual and Structural Determinants. Frontiers in Psychology 12 
  • Boehnke, M., Larsen, M, Deutsch F. (2021): Consequences of feminized migration: How are family gender relations affected? In: S. Scherger, R. Abramowski et al. (Eds.): 
  • Geschlechterungleichheiten in Arbeit, Wohlfahrtsstaat und Familie. Festschrift für Karin Gottschall. Frankfurt, New York: Campus Verlag, pp. 413 435 
  • Deutschmann, E., Lorenz, J., Nardin, L.G., Natalini, D., Wilhelm, A.F.X. (eds): Computational Conflict Research, Springer Nature 
  • Ponizovskiy, V., Ardag, M., Grigoryan, L., Boyd, R., Dobewall, H., Holtz, P. (2020) Development and Validation of the Personal Values Dictionary: A Theory-Driven Tool for Investigating References to Basic Human Values in Text, European Journal of Personality, 34(5), p. 885-902