"Dissertationspreis" for Marius Meinhof
Marius Meinhof. Picture by: Thomas Abel
This dissertation was outstanding - this is the judgment of the German Society of Sociology (DGS) about the work of BGHS-Alumnus Marius Meinhof, which deals with the shopping experiences of Chinese students. On 26 September, Marius Meinhof will be honoured with the “Dissertationspreis” at the congress of the DGS.
“I did not intend to do research about China”
“I went to China to learn the language, not to find a research topic”, says Marius Meinhof. “But the experiences I made during my stay were too interesting to not use them.” Concerning which aspect of life in China is easy to approach for people who are not familiar with the country, he decided to go for consumption behavior.
For his research, Meinhof did interviews with Chinese students about their way of living and how they buy and consume. In these interviews it appeared as tenor that the Western way of consumption, like shopping malls, are cutting out the traditional market and street vendors. In sociology, this development is known as “diffusion” and corresponded with Marius Meinhof’s expectations.
Surprise during the evaluation
But back in Bielefeld, evaluating his material, he was surprised: The descriptions the students have made about their lives did not match, what he had experienced with them. “I recognized it, when I read my research diary. I met students, who told me that the markets had disappeared, only to go with them to a market afterwards. This mismatch forced me to revise my theoretical approach.”
Discussing the theoretical approach
To do so, he approached sociologist all around in Germany, visited their colloquia and discussed his problem with the participants. He did the same at the BGHS, especially with internationals like the participants in the Startup-Scholar-program. Startup-Scholars are international MA graduates at the BGHS who get the chance to develop an idea for a project into an expose. “They had similar experiences as I had”, says Marius Meinhof. “The terms, western research offer do not always fit the reality in postcolonial countries.”
The discussions led him into the solution. Marius Meinhof developed new terms to describe the consumption behavior he had found, which helped him to become more precise in his writing. “I learnt with this project the importance of being precise. And not to lean onto too simple concepts.”
Bielefeld University about the award for Marius Meinhof(in German:
Die current call for applications at the BGHS: