From its very beginnings, sociology considered itself a key discipline to explore the modern industrial society. The changes in society have therefore been a special challenge for this discipline. In the present period of radical change, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation would in particular like to support research projects in the social sciences which treat the theme of the transition from an industrial society to a ‚knowledge society‘ and which throw light on the future development of the industrial society. All the consequences of this transition need to be examined; not only the world of work is affected, but also, for instance, biographical careers and family structures are altered, dramatic changes in mentality occur, and new lifestyle patterns and modes of conduct appear. Investigations of new forms of earning a living and new vocational paths, as well as of changes in traditional biographic patterns and leisure-time activities all belong to this complex. Important are analyses of the changes in the relationship between the sexes brought about by the higher value placed on particular occupations (bringing up children, care of the old, ‚caring‘ activities) as well as investigations of changes in the relations between the generations brought about by the current dramatic demographic changes. The foundation welcomes studies dealing with the shift from the traditional industrial society to the ‚knowledge society‘, in which the creation of new knowledge and its intelligent and speedy application are of the utmost importance. New ways of teaching and learning which will bring about changes in the traditional agents of socialization, from the school to the university, deserve attention; significant revisions of teaching methods and curricula are to be expected in the near future.

In the field of sociology the Fritz Thyssen Foundation gives high priority to projects which can contribute to our understanding of present-day social changes in the light of possible future developments.