Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies

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Social Sorting

In this study group, open to students in history, anthropology, urban studies, and political and social science, we look at processes of social and administrative sorting, adopting both historical and anthropological perspectives. We understand social sorting as a key aspect of modernity, comprising bureaucratized and automated processes of categorization that are routinely applied to channel large sets of people.

Sorting processes can be observed in many contexts, involving the management (‘sorting out’) of large and complicated flows of goods, people and information. Where these processes are applied to people, they are decisive in terms of producing forms of inclusion and exclusion, for example pertaining to citizenship rights, and entitlements to public services, humanitarian aid and charity.

These social sorting practices are instrumental in sustaining the social and political order: they emerge from the application of legal norms, which are translated into protocols, facilitated, enhanced and co-produced by certain technologies that help to define, identify, profile, and channel relevant categories and groups of people. Sorting practices have changed over time, from the simple paper-based and mechanical forms of the past to the more sophisticated digital, algorithmic and biometrical techniques of today.

They have been employed in many different political contexts (the colonial state, the nation-state, the welfare and neoliberal ‘deregulated’ state), recurrently functioning as technologies of surveillance and control, entailing discriminatory, exclusionary, and discretionary practices of people with power to decide.

The rise of sorting practices is not only linked to modernity but also to processes of globalization, that is, the increase in flows of goods, people, and information. They have gained ground in the private sector as well, such as in retailing, banking, and security. In this study group we discuss the origins and development of these sorting practices, their social and political implications, their technological basis and material and spatial repercussions.

Group leaders:

Members and projects:

  • Drivalda Delia, M.A.
    National Resistance as a Temporary Mean of Gender Empowerment - the Reshaping of Public Sphere before, during and in the Aftermath of the Kosovo Crisis (1988-1999)
  • Dr. Adrian Grama
    "One Very Skilled Workforce": Life Cycles in Global Trade on the East European Periphery (1970s-1990s)
  • Svea Lehmann, M.A.
    Zwischen Zugehörigkeit und gesellschaftlichem Ausschluss. Jüdische Lebenswelten in der Sowjetunion 1961-1991
  • Anton Liavitski, M.A.
    "Auf der letzten Strecke". Die belarussische Intelligenzija und die Herausforderungen des Nationalstaats ab 1991
  • Oana Valentina Sorescu-Iudean, M.A.
    The Evolution of Testamentary Behavior in the Case of the Transylvanian Saxons, 1550-1750
  • Eva-Maria Walther, M.Sc.
    Tolerance and nationalism in Slovakia. How volunteers fight Slovakia’s "tolerance deficit"
  • Peter Wegenschimmel, Mag.
    Staatlichkeit und Industrie im postsozialistischen Europa. Zwei Fallstudien zur organisationalen Resistenz bzw. zur staatlichen Lenkung in der Schiffbauindustrie

Former members and projects:

  • Dr. Jan Arend
    Stress between Late Socialism and Transformation. How East German and Czechoslovak/Czech societies dealt with tension and strain, 1970-2000
  • Dr. Čarna Brković
    Between Compassion and Social Justice: Humanitarianism in Montenegro during and after the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY)
  • Maren Hachmeister, M.A.
    Selbstorganisation im Sozialismus: Das Rote Kreuz in Polen und der Tschechoslowakei (1945-1989)
  • Dr. Friederike Kind-Kovács
    The Starving Children of Central Europe: Humanitarian Aid for Children in Budapest after the First World War
  • Dr. Irina Morozova
    The Debate on Progress, Social Order and Economy and the Rise of New Inequalities in Central Asia, 1970-90s
  • PhDr. Jaromír Mrňka
  • Dr. Karina Shyrokykh
    Challenges of illiberal multilateralism: The role of Russian-led international and regional organizations in regime stability and change
  • Katalin Tóth, M.A.
    "I love Budapest. I bike Budapest?” An ethnography of urban cycling between local meaning and international sustainability discourses.
  • Andrey Vozyanov, M.A.
    Infrastructures in trouble: Tramway, Trolleybus and Society in Ukraine and Romania after 1990