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Sozialdaten als Quellen der Zeitgeschichte. Eine Machbarkeitsstudie zur Etablierung einer Dateninfrastruktur für die zeithistorische Forschung (SoQuZ)


Quantitative and qualitative social research have become the preferred means of self-observation in industrial societies. The social data generated in the research process are therefore an indispensable source for research on contemporary history. In recent years, therefore, data-supported research has received a great deal of attention within the field of contemporary historical research. Historians use the data from quantitative and qualitative social research to answer their research questions. During this process, the data is removed from its original contexts, contextualized and (re)analyzed. Typical for the historical approach is that very different materials are combined (e.g. data, publications on the data, producer interviews etc.).

However, the use of social data involves major challenges for contemporary historians. First, potentially relevant data is fragmented in different repositories or data centers or has not yet been backed up for research. Secondly, legal questions concerning the use of the data remain unresolved. This concerns on the one hand questions of legal ownership and on the other hand questions of data protection. Thirdly, the evaluation of social science data requires special competencies (e.g. statistical knowledge) that are not part of the university curricula of history. Fourthly, currently established data infrastructures do not systematically support historians in managing and preserving re-discovered data.

This project develops a framework concept for a data infrastructure for research in contemporary history. Before resources are used to build a sustainable infrastructure, several fundamental questions must be answered.

(1) How much potential have social data for use in contemporary historical research? Is it possible to identify relevant databases that are suitable for contemporary research?

(2) What are the legal constraints for the use of social data by historians?

(3) Which support do historians need for the development and use of social data? What services of existing social sciences or humanities research infrastructures already cover these needs?

(4) How can a data infrastructure for contemporary research be implemented? How can sustainability be ensured?

This project aims to answer these questions and, building on them, to provide perspectives for the further development of a data infrastructure for contemporary history within the dynamic developments of the National Research Data Infrastructure and the European Open Science Cloud.


2020-01-01 – 2022-03-31


Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft