Research Sociology / Franz Xaver Kaufmann Prize 2024 awarded to Dr. Tom Kaden

Franz Xaver Kaufmann Prize 2024 awarded to Dr. Tom Kaden

On 16 April 2024, Dr. Tom Kaden received the Franz Xaver Kaufmann Prize 2024 for his outstanding national and international research and publications. The Faculty of Sociology at Bielefeld University honours emerging talent with the Franz Xaver Kaufmann Prize, endowed with 10,000 euros.

Since 2003, Tom Kaden has studied German Studies and Sociology in Freiburg and Frankfurt. In 2010, he received a doctoral scholarship at the University of Leipzig from the DFG Graduate Program "Religious Nonconformism and Cultural Dynamics." Kaden's dissertation was published in Wiesbaden by Harrassowitz in 2015 under the title "Creationism and Anti-Creationism in the United States: A Conflict Sociology Study." In his work, Kaden examines the history of professional creationists from the 1960s to the present and systematically includes the secular opposition. Using Pierre Bourdieu's field theory, he shows how creationism, in its various forms, can be understood and explained as the result of a constant process of negotiation and adaptation by professional creationists and anti-creationists.

The dissertation received the Research Academy Leipzig Dissertation Award in 2014 and the Rolf Kentner Award from the Heidelberg Institute for American Studies in 2015.

After completing his doctorate, Kaden worked as a post-doc from 2014 to 2017 on the interdisciplinary project "Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum" at York University in Toronto. Between 2018 and 2023, he was a co-investigator in the project "Science and Religion. A Global Perspective" at the University of Birmingham, involving researchers from nine countries in the fields of history, sociology, religious studies, and communication studies.

Since 2018, Kaden has been teaching and researching as an academic counselor at the University of Bayreuth. Sociology in Bayreuth has thus gained a researcher who combines classical approaches from Max Weber's sociology with entirely new perspectives. He has made a name for himself as an educator and was awarded the Science Prize of the University Association Bayreuth e.V. in 2022 for his achievements.

Kaden has an impressive publication record in both German and English. To date, he has published five books, three of which he co-edited. He has published nine articles in peer-reviewed journals and 23 additional articles in edited volumes and journals.

Kaden is also a reviewer for renowned journals and publishers such as the Qualitative Sociology Review, Symbolic Interaction, and Routledge, among others.

Kaden's research profile identifies him as a broadly positioned sociologist with a clear profile in culture-sociological qualitative research, operating in an interdisciplinary environment with strong connections to history, religious studies, and communication and media studies. His research to date has focused on creationism, fundamentalism, the so-called new atheism, jihadism, the relationship between science and religion, and Max Weber's methodology.

Kaden's habilitation project addresses a highly topical issue that connects aspects of visual analysis of media data in the so-called new digital media with questions of power and control through state-directed propaganda. The project examines internet memes circulated by the Russian-controlled Internet Research Agency (IRA) in St. Petersburg, intended to influence the 2016 US election in favor of Donald Trump. A massive number of small electronic messages were disseminated through various channels, targeting the presumed preferences of specific groups (conservatives, nationalists, Republicans, as well as Blacks, Latinos, etc.). In total, over 200,000 social media posts were sent, effectively serving as scattershot ammunition in the global digital battle for political influence. Kaden not only elucidates the background of this campaign, whose relevance cannot be overstated in light of the current Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, but also develops a complex and meticulous method for analyzing these new forms of text-image combinations in breadth and depth, employing a combination of quantitative and hermeneutic methods. The research is titled: "Authoritative Power and Political Influence: On the Sociology of Digital Propaganda" and is expected to be completed in 2024.

We congratulate Tom Kaden on his well-deserved Franz-Xaver-Kaufmann Prize.

Franz-Xaver Kaufmann Award Ceremony on April 16, 2024: Prof. Dr. Diana Lengersdorf, Prof. Dr. Bernt Schnettler, Dr. Tom Kaden, Prof. Dr. Monika Wohrab-Sahr, Prof. Dr. Oliver Flügel-Martinsen.

In 2019, the Faculty of Sociology at the University of Bielefeld launched the Franz-Xaver-Kaufmann Prize for the first time. With a prize money of 10,000 euros, this award honors and rewards promising scientists at an early stage in their careers.

The Franz-Xaver-Kaufmann Prize recognizes the achievements of scientists who have published a second internationally recognized scientific work or comparable scientific achievements in German or English within five years of their doctorate. The awardees are distinguished by their promising future prospects to make significant international scientific contributions in their respective fields.

The prize is named after Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Franz-Xaver Kaufmann, a founding member of the Faculty of Sociology and honorary senator of the University of Bielefeld. With his outstanding work in the fields of family and religion sociology as well as the sociological analysis of social policy, Kaufmann significantly contributed to the reputation of the faculty.

Kaufmann has always paid special attention to promoting young researchers. In his honor, the Faculty of Sociology awards the Franz-Xaver-Kaufmann Prize, worth 10,000 euros, every two years.

On November 13, 2019, the first award ceremony took place. The jury, chaired by Prof. Dr. Diana Lengersdorf, selected two winners: Dr. Andrea Kretschmann from the Centre Marc Bloch in Berlin and Dr. Aaron Sahr from the Hamburg Institute for Social Research, stood out among the promising young scientists. Two years later, the second award ceremony for the Franz-Xaver-Kaufmann Prize took place. On September 14, 2022, PD Dr. Janne Mende and Dr. Jan Beek won the prize as young scientists.

Weiterführende Links

Website Franz-Xaver-Kaufmann Prize of the Faculty of Sociology at Bielefeld University
Website of Dr. Tom Kaden
Google Scholar of Dr. Tom Kaden
ResearchGate of Dr. Tom Kaden
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