About Prof. Dr. Markus Freitag

Markus Freitag studied political science, economics, and German language and literature at Heidelberg University. After obtaining the degree of Magister Artium in 1995, he joined the University of Bern as a doctoral candidate and scientific assistant and completed his doctoral degree (PhD) in 1999. Following various post-doc and lecturer positions– at the Center of European and International Studies of the University of Basel (Europainstitut Basel), the ETH Zurich, and the University of Essex (GB) – Freitag was a visiting lecturer at the University of Konstanz and a research assistant at the University of Bern. From 2004 to 2005 he was assistant professor at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, where he taught courses on comparative politics. From 2005 to 2011 Freitag held the Chair of Comparative Politics at the University of Konstanz. In August 2011, he was appointed to director at the Institute of Political Science, University of Bern, and professor of political sociology. In addition to the political and social effects of direct democracy, his research activities focus on aspects of social relationships and tolerance. Freitag also is active in the research field of political and social participation in Switzerland as well as in the international context. He has published extensively in journals such as British Journal of Political Science, Comparative Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Electoral Studies, European Journal of Political Research, European Political Science Review, European Union Politics, European Sociological Review, Governance, International Political Studies, Political Studies, Publius, and West European Politics. A central theme in his research is the focus on the concept of social capital and the personality as a foundation of political behavior.

Markus Freitag has also headed several research projects, focusing specifically on the collection of data on under-researched topics by means of specially designed questionnaires. For example, one of the projects addressed the development of different aspects of volunteering in Switzerland. As part of this project, Freitag was responsible for organizing the first two large nationwide surveys, each covering 7000 randomly selected individuals. Another survey-based project led by Freitag focused on the influence of ethnic heterogeneity on aspects of social integration in 60 neighborhoods in Germany and Switzerland, including 1600 randomly selected individuals in two municipalities. In addition, Freitag worked on a project which aims to reveal the local foundations of citizens’ voluntary engagement. Employing a two-stage sampling design, 6000 individuals have been selected in 60 randomly selected Swiss municipalities.

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Short description

Markus Freitag's academic focus is on political sociology. His teaching and research mainly concern the analysis of social capital, trust, tolerance, personality, elite circulation, political participation, and volunteering and are characterised by a predominantly comparative and empirical approach as well as an interdisciplinary linkage to other areas of social sciences. The staff of the chair provides theoretical and empirically-oriented seminars and lectures on a regular basis. Markus Freitag published on trust, tolerance, social capital, direct democracy, comparative public policy and voter participation in the British Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Politics, European Journal of Political Research, European Union Politics, Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Behaviour, and Publius.

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