Social Differentiation in Policy-Networks: Governing Climate Change in Germany

November 6, 2019

Volker Schneider Seminar


Name: Volker Schneider, Professor of Political Science, Chair for Empirical Theory of the State, University of Konstanz, & WZB Berlin

Title: Social Differentiation in Policy-Networks: Governing Climate Change in Germany

Date:  October 9, 2019 – Wednesday

Place: CASE 127

Time: 16:30-18:00


This paper aims at a theoretical and empirical contribution to the analysis of public policy in a network perspective. It pursues an innovative thrust in that various sociological theories of societal differentiation and theories of organizational ecologies are combined and linked to policy-analytic approaches and social network analysis methods. The aim is to describe processes of networked policy-making by relational macro-configurations that are shaped by specific differentiation and integration patterns of modern societies. Social network analysis in this perspective is not only suitable for the (descriptive and explanatory) analysis of communication and resource flows between such large societal subunits, but also works as a fruitful empirical approach to the systematic identification of policy actors linked to various functional and institutional subsystems based on mutual relevance in policy-making process.

The outlined approach will be applied to German climate policy. Data for this case had been collected during 2011 and 2012. These years are commonly referred to as the period of the German energy transition following the Fukushima disaster. The paper shows that the agenda setting and policy formulation process of tackling the global warming problem in Germany had involved a wide range of actors from different functional and institutional sectors. In addition, this policy network shows that patterns of cooperation do not simply follow individual actor preferences, but are strongly determined by macro-structural positions in the specific German matrix of social differentiation. For instance, the political and the science systems in Germany exhibit specific patterns of functional and institutional differentiation.

Short bio: Prof. Dr. Volker Schneider holds since 1997 the “Chair of  Empirical Theory of the State” at the department of “Politics and Public Administration”. Since 2013, he is the dean of the section “Politics- Law – Economy” at the University of Konstanz.