Author Archives: Tilo Beckers

About Tilo Beckers

Since October 2009, I am an “Akademischer Rat auf Zeit” (equiv. of assistant professor) in Sociology and Research Methods at the University of Düsseldorf. In the summer term 2010 (April through September), I have been on leave as a substitute full professor (W2) for "Methods of Empirical Research and Social Stratification" at the University of Osnabrück, Germany. I have studied at the University of Düsseldorf (MA 1999) and at the New School for Social Research (New York City; DAAD-scholarship and full fee and tuition waiver of the New School). Thereafter, I have been a research assistant and lecturer at the University of Cologne and accomplished my PhD (2008) with a thesis on "Homosexuality and Human Development. Genesis, Structure and Change of Attitudes Towards Same-Sex Sexual Contacts in a Cross-National Contextual Analysis" (in German; presented at ASA Annual Meeting 2008, Boston). My postdoc study at the University of Cologne has been published as a book chapter on "Islam and the Acceptance of Homosexuality: the Shortage of Socio-Economic Well-being and Responsive Democracy" (in: Samar Habib (ed.) 2009: Homosexuality and Islam. Praeger; presented at ESA Conference 2009, Lisbon). My current substantial research focuses on attitudes towards beginning- and end-of-life issues (i.e. topics evolving around abortion, IVF, PID and also euthanasia, patient's wills, palliative medicine). At the ISA World Congress 2010 in Gothenburg, I have organized an Ad-hoc Session on "Beginning- and End-of-Life-Issues on the Move" (together with Eva Jaspers, Utrecht, and Nora Machado, Lisbon). My methodological research is closely linked to issues of cross-national comparison, the analysis of social change and multilevel analysis. Please find out more about current research projects FAIVA-LIFE, "Boundaries of Life" and AnaGramm on my University website and my blogs.

Thanks to all members, fellows and experts involved.

Senior fellow network members

Prof. Dr. Gert Pickel, Political Scientist and Sociologist, Institute for Practical Theology, Chair in the Sociology of Religion and Churches, University of Leipzig

Prof. Dr. Annette Schnabel, Sociologist, Chair in General Sociology and specialist in sociologies of religion, knowledge and gender, Heinrich-Heine-University of Düsseldorf


Member list

Edurne Bartolomé-Peral, Associate professor of Political Science at the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, University of Deusto, Bilbao Spain

Joachim Cohen,  Full professor of ‘A public health approach to palliative and end-of-life care’ at Vrije Universiteit Brussels within the End-of-Life Care Research Group

Mira Hassan, Sociologist, PhD candidate, Heinrich-Heine-University of Düsseldorf

Dr. Anja Hennig, Political Scientist, researcher, Chair of Comparative Politics, European University Viadrina at Frankfurt/Oder; research fields: comparative morality politics and religion

Anne-Katrin Henseler, Psychologist, PhD candidate at University of Bielefeld

Jonas Jansen, Palliative Care, PhD candidate at University Hospital of Düsseldorf

Dr. Constantin Klein, Psychologist and Theologian, researcher at University of Bielefeld

Anna Lindblad, MD PhD, specialist in Psychiatry at Norra Stockholms Psykiatri and researcher in Medical Ethics at Stockholm Center for Healthcare Ethics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm

Dr. Caroline Preidel, Political Scientist, Researcher, project MORAPOL (Comparative Analysis of Moral Policy Change), Geschwister Scholl Institut, L.-Maximilians-University of Munich

Elena Prutskova, Sociologist, Researcher at Sociology of Religion Research Seminar, St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University, Moscow

Maksim Rudnev, Senior Research Fellow at Laboratory of Comparative Studies of Mass Consciousness, and Associate Professor at National Research University Higher School of Economics

Prof. Dr. Sabine Salloch, Medical Ethicist, Head of the Institute for Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, University of Greifswald

Ivett Szalma, PhD, Sociologist, post-doctoral fellow, FORS, Lausanne

Raül Tormos Marin, PhD, Political Scientist, Dr. Raül Tormos, Political Scientist and Sociologist, senior survey researcher at the official Catalan polling institute (Centre d’Estudis d’Opinió) and lecturer at the University of Barcelona

Dr. Malina Voicu, Sociologist, Senior Researcher at the Department Data Archive for the Social Sciences, Team International Surveys, GESIS Cologne



Invited experts (who attended at least one of to the five network meetings*)

PD Dr. Hermann Dülmer, Sociologist, University of Cologne (currently on leave, substitute professor of Social Research Methods, Julius-Maximilians-University of Würzburg)

Dr. Ruth Horn, Sociologist, Researcher, Nuffield Department of Population Health, Ethox Centre Oxford

Prof. Dr. Christoph Knill, Chair in Empirical Theories of Politics, Head of Comparative Analysis of Moral Policy Change, Geschwister Scholl Institut, L.-Maximilians-University of Munich

Prof. Sonia Roccas, PhD, Psychologist, Open University of Israel, Ra’anana

PD Dr. med. Jan Schildmann, M.A., Medical Ethicist, Head of Section Ethics and Evidence in Healthcare, Institute for Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, Ruhr University of Bochum

Prof. Dr. Peter Schmidt, Methodologist and Political Scientist, RU-HSE, Moscow and Gießen

Dr. med. Christian Schulz, MSc, Palliative Care Researcher, King’s College London

Prof. Heinz Streib, PhD, Theologian, Research Center for Biographical Studies in Contemporary Religion, University of Bielefeld

5th and final meeting in Cologne, March 2016

“Preparing the stage 2 application for the ESS rotating module “

The 1st stage application for an ESS rotating module on “Boundaries of life” was successful. It was selected as 8 out of 22 applications.

During this 5th meeting the network members and senior fellows have prepared the stage 2 application.


Beginning- and end-of-life issues (BELISS)

Explaining attitudes towards assisted reproduction and assisted dying in Europe

Researchers have analysed modernisation processes and human development in Europe according to a range of value preferences and attitudes. Due to advances in medicine and the structural ageing of European societies, recent social science publications indicate a rising relevance of beginning- and end-of-life issues, henceforth BELISS (Aksoy 2007; Hendry et al. 2013; Lizza 2010). These issues concern the moral and political questions around birth and death, reproduction and dying and the growing interest in these issues in the context of modernisation, morality policies, and welfare state systems (Engeli et al. 2012; Ekland-Olsen 2015; Knill et al. 2015; Seale 2000). The proposed module would provide a multi-level framework for explaining differences in attitudes within and between countries towards BELISS by introducing innovative measures and addressing audiences in various fields of the social sciences.



4th meeting in Barcelona (at RECSM), September 2015


The fourth meeting will comprise further discussion of the papers for the collaborative publication on “Boundaries of Life” and the in-depth discussion of the measurement instruments that have been developed. We will discuss the items with the experts of RECSM and continue to prepare the application for a rotating module in January 2016.

Expert guests: Peter Schmidt (SEM, cross-national surveys), Christoph Knill (comparative political science, moral policies), Hermann Dülmer (HLM, SEM, morality).

3rd workshop meeting in Düsseldorf, 21-22 May 2015

Cross-national comparisons, theory and data analysis: linking, contextualizing and explaining boundaries of life


The third meeting is based on the secondary analysis of existing data (EVS 1999-2008, WVS 1981-2005, Life and Values in Germany, Life and Values in Russia 2014) which were worked out in the lead-time. The members of the network are going to present the psychometric analyses of the scales in countries and tests of measurement invariance across countries as well as multilevel analyses of European comparative data. Apart from this, the linkages between the beginning and end of life will be discussed in context. The meeting also serves the first substantive and methodological discussion of the papers that shall be published in a collective volume. This discussion will be continued during the fourth meeting.


– Cross-national comparisons and the measurement of end-of-life issues

– Linking the beginning and end of life

– Human Development and Autonomy at the Beginning and End of Life

– Longitudinal analysis of attitudes towards the end of life

– The beginning of life and the gender context


Expert guests:

Joachim Cohen (Brussels)

Hermann Dülmer (Cologne)




2nd workshop meeting at GESIS Cologne, 20-21 November 2014

Religious Change and Value Change

Goals: The second meeting serves the exchange about the state of the research of religion and values from sociological, psychological and theological perspectives. First the pluralization of the religious field shall be discussed as well as an adequate reflection of this change in empirical measurements to derive a proposal for a more precise implementation of forms of religious beliefs in survey research. Second the theory of value change and the concept of value measurement shall be discussed especially with regard to the theoretical opposition of traditional acceptance and modern self-determination values.


Ethical perspectives and social science studies on beginning of life issues

Pluralization of the religious field: new forms of belief and denominational differences

Values as means of moral reasoning and the study of value change

Linking ethics, religion and values; discussion and development tasks


Expert guests:

Heinz Streib, Bielefeld, on Pluralization of religiosity & spirituality

Sonia Roccas, Raanana, on Values as causal predictors of moral attitudes


1st workshop meeting in Düsseldorf, 12-13 June, 2014

Ethical boundaries of life and morality politics

(A preliminary outlook on the program of the first workshop of the network; latest update: March 19, 2014, please note: the workshop meeting is only open to invited scholars)



The first meeting serves the constitution of the network and the discussion of two substantial topics. The aim of the meeting is to reflect the (medical) ethical arguments, theories and debates as well as their relevance to the moral‐political discourse within the societies of Western‐ and Eastern Europe. In comparison to the socio‐historical heritage of Western‐ and post‐communist societies, the moral‐political and social relevance of boundary issues of life shall be discussed. Here the aim is to review concepts that are useful for a later implementation in standardized measurement instruments for the comparison across countries and cultures.

Thursday, June 12
Morning: Get together, general agenda and research plans, exchange of ideas and discussion
Afternoon: Ethical issues at the beginning and end of life (topic area and team A, cf. proposal)

Friday, June 13
Morning: Moral political issues in European public spheres (topic area and team D)
Afternoon: Linking ethics and moral politics, discussion and development tasks

About: Goal, summary and coordinators


Development of an international questionnaire module for moral political issues of boundaries of life (cf. DFG website)



Questions on issues of life are an ethical issue that gains relevance in everyday life through in practice experiences and political discourse. Part of this is the question of self-determination in contradiction to the sanctity of human life. Additionally, a moral political debate arises in public, creating a pro choice vs. pro life-cleavage that poses sociologically important questions: What attitudes do citizens represent and how are these attitudes influenced by religious beliefs and value systems? How do these attitudes differ and how are these variations conditioned by individual and country-specific characteristics? What role does the post-communist heritage play for the lower acceptance in Eastern compared to Western Europe?

To answer these questions, new population representative survey data is needed. Objectives of the scientific network are therefore (1) the further development and implementation of new measurement
instruments concerning issues about boundaries of life, (2) a differentiated reflection of varying social forms of religion, (3) the systematic inclusion of value orientations as explanatory factors and (4) the explanation of attitudes towards boundaries of life embedded in the context of action in a comparative perspective. […]


Coordinators (and V.i.S.d.P.):

Dr. Tilo Beckers

Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
Institut für Sozialwissenschaften
Universitätsstraße 1
40225 Düsseldorf
Phone: (+49) (0) 211 – 81 14273
Fax: (+49) (0)211 – 81 15648


Dr. Pascal Siegers

GESIS Leibniz-Institut für Sozialwissenschaften
Datenarchiv für die Sozialwissenschaften
Unter Sachsenhausen 6-8
50667 Köln
Phone: (+49) (0)221 – 47694 419
Fax: (+49) (0)221 – 47694 8419