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Mobile transitions - mobile lifestyles? Career choice and way of living at the transition to transnational scientific careers in the European Union

Project leader

Research assistants

Student assistants

  • Michelle Buller
  • Kai Hurle


  • Schäfer, G. & El Dali, Y. (2019). Trajectories into foreign higher education systems for doctoral candidates from Germany: a comparative study of France and the Netherlands, Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, DOI: 10.1080/03057925.2019.1627859
  • Schäfer, G. (2018). Academic Mobility in an Emerging European Research Area: Perception and Realization of its Instruments among PhD Candidates, Migration Studies – Review of Polish Diaspora, 3 (169), p. 123–142.
  • Schittenhelm, K. (2018). Typenbildung und Methodenkombination in der Analyse mehrdimensionaler Statusübergänge. In: Bohnsack, Ralf; Hoffmann, Nora Friederike & Nentwig-Gesemann, Iris (Hrsg.), Typenbildung und Dokumentarische Methode. Forschungspraxis und methodologische Grundlagen. Opladen: Budrich, S. 191-203


  • Gregor Schäfer (September 2019): "Should I stay, or should I go? Plans and orientation regarding future mobility of mobile doctoral candidates after their graduation"
    European Conference on Educational Research 2019, Hamburg
  • Gregor Schäfer (August 2019): "Construction of European identity among intra-EU mobile young academics"
    European Sociological Association PhD Summer School 2019, Manchester
  • Gregor Schäfer & Yasmin El Dali (August 2019): "Adjustment of German doctoral candidates In France and the Netherlands"
    14th Conference of the European Sociological Association, Manchester
  • Gregor Schäfer (June 2019): "Construction of European identity among intra-EU mobile young academics"
    26th International Conference of Europeanists, Madrid
  • Gregor Schäfer (March 2019): "Spatial mobility and the perception of career development. An example from German doctoral candidates in the social sciences and humanities in the Netherlands
    European Educational Research Association’s International Research Seminar on “(Post) Academic Careers: PhD graduates and Employability in- and outside Academia”, Amsterdam
  • Yasmin El Dali & Gregor Schäfer (September 2018):"Strategien im Umgang mit beruflicher Unsicherheit bei mobilen Doktoranden*innen der Geistes- und Gesellschaftswissenschaften"
    39. Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie, Göttingen

  • Gregor Schäfer (September 2018):"Accumulation of mobility capital. An example from PhD candidates"
    European Conference on Educational Research, Bolzano

  • Gregor Schäfer (July 2018): "Trajectories into foreign higher education systems for PhD candidates from Germany: A comparative look at France and the Netherlands"
    34th European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) Colloquium, Tallinn

  • Karin Schittenhelm (June 2018): "Berufsausübung und Lebensführung in transnationalen Wissenschaftslaufbahnen: Internationale Promovierende aus Deutschland in Frankreich und in den Niederlanden"
    Deutscher Akademischer Auslandsdienst (DAAD) Wissenschaftswerkstatt, Bonn

  • Gregor Schäfer (May 2018): "Europeanization of mobile academics in a united European Research Area"
     12th Biennial Conference of the European Community Studies Association-Canada, Toronto

  • Gregor Schäfer (October 2017): "Internationalization and Europeanization of the Social Sciences and Humanities"
    International Staff Week - The Status of Social Sciences and Humanities in Higher Education and Research, University of Osijek.

  • Gregor Schäfer (August 2017): "The perception and usage of EU-instruments to enhance mobility by PhD students"
    13th Conference of the European Sociological Association, Athens.

  • Gregor Schäfer (June 2017): "Mobility of junior researchers within Europe and the influence of EU-instruments"
    V International Summer School on Higher Education Research at the Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg.

  • Karin Schittenhelm (April 2017): "Qualitatives Sampling. (Güte-)Kriterien und Strategien der Datenauswahl"
    Series of lectures "Quality matters - zur Qualität qualitativer Forschung", Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen.

Short description

  • The study is on the transition to early transnational scientific careers in the European Union. By help of qualitative methods, humanities graduates are interviewed who, after having completed their studies at German universities, are active as scientists in selected countries of the European Union (The Netherlands and France). In how far do issues connected to their professions but also to their private ways of living play a role for their transition to scientific work in other EU-member states and for their way of dealing with thus-connected demands? The study is meant to gain an extended view of transitions in educational and professional biographies, apart from professional orientation in each case also considering the practiced lifestyles or the ways of living anticipated for the future (including partnership, family or alternative ways of living). In order of covering biographically acquired knowledge as well as negotiations and social inclusion already during the period of transition, the study combines individual interviews and couple interviews.
    Based on narrative interviews with mobile university graduates having graduated up to three years ago, the study asks about biographically acquired orientations, periods of application as well as mobility decisions. The interest of this step of the inquiry is in their coping with the transition biography as well as in their practiced and anticipated ways of living. From the sample of those having already been individually interviewed a selection for the second step, the couple interviews, will be made. These will be conducted with mobile university graduates and their respective partners. On the one hand these interviews will serve for investigating their negotiation processes and their potentially divergent views on professional mobility and the thus-connected ways of living as couples. On the other hand, the interest focuses on how ways of working transnationally and the practiced lifestyle are based on sharing common stocks of knowledge.
    For data evaluation, the documentary method will be applied. The epistemic interest is in which kinds of knowledge prove to be relevant in the analysis of transitions in professional biographies from a point of view which is extended by the private way of living. On the one hand, the question is how women and men, in relation to their respective ways of living, cope with the demands of mobile transitions. On the other hand, it is worth asking in how far the Europeanization of scientific careers creates ways of transnational living in the private life domain.

Period of funding

  • Oktober 2016 - September 2019

Funded by

  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)