Historical Social Research

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Franz Breuer: Predecessor-Successor Transitions in Institutional and Interpersonal Contexts: On the Development of a Theory of Transfer of Personal Objects. [Abstract]

This article outlines the development of a theory of predecessor-successor transitions in social contexts using a grounded theory approach. The theory can be applied to such diverse phenomena as the transfer of family businesses to the next generation, university chair succession, the passing on of parental roles (for example in the case of adoption or remarriage), and organ transplantation. The core conceptual category that emerged was "the transfer of personal objects". This concept refers to the transfer of the power of disposal over objects that are fundamental to the identity and the identification of the owner. A number of theoretical dimensions of the category were identified. Methodologically speaking, the theory generated can be classified as a formal grounded theory. In other words, the comparison of different empirical fields and cases using hermeneutical analysis yielded a transdisciplinary social science category that can be employed to conceptualise the dynamics of the development of interpersonal, social, or institutional structures, especially with regard to the links and the interplay between material and symbolic components, between the individual and the social, and the past and the present.