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cappai-gabriele-180x180 Prof. Dr. Gabriele Cappai

Fachgruppe Soziologie
Empirische Sozialforschung


1991 1994Assistant Professor, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Sociology (Germany)
1993, 1995, 1996Visiting Professor, Universitá di Sassari, Anthropology and Sociology (Italy)
1996 – 2001Assistant Professor, Universität Bayreuth, Sociology (Germany)
1998Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh, C.S.C.N.W.W., (Great Britain)
2004Visiting Professor, Mahatma Gandhi University, C.M.S. College, Sociology, (India)
2006Visiting Professor, Università di Torino, Philosophy, Anthropolgy and Sociology, (Italy)
since 2007apl. Professor, Universität Bayreuth, Cultural Sciences, (Germany)

Teaching and conferences at important scientific Institutions

Seminar: Contested Shari'ah
Harvard, March 2013

The College Arts & Humanities Institute
Lecture: Culture and Economic Development
Bloomington, March 2012

Seminar: Grundsätze empirischen Forschens.
Erfurt, Dezember 2007, 2008 and 2010.

Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung (ZIF)
Lecture: Auf der Suche nach einem Paradigma. Zur Relevanz von Max Webers handlungstheoretischem Ansatz für die italienische Soziologie. Conference: Max Webers „Grundbegriffe“ - Kategorien der Kultur- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Forschung."
Bielefeld, 1.-3. Juni 2005.

School of International Relations
Seminar: Qualitative empirical research
Mahatma Gandhi University, India, August 2004.

Max-Planck-Institut für Ethnologie
Lecture: Kulturdeterminismus.
Halle, 13. Juli 2004.

Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut
Lecture: Gewalt und Exklusion. „Vielfalt der Kulturen - Einheit der Gewalt?“
Essen, 18.-20. April 2002.

Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF)
Seminar: Methods in the Social Sciences.
Tbilisi Georgia, October 2001.

Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut
Lecture: Übersetzung in der Situation gesellschaftlicher Fragmentierung. „Übersetzung als Medium des Kulturverstehens und der sozialen Integration“.
Essen, 21.-23. Jun 2001.

European Management & Organisation in Transition (EMOT)
Lecture: On the difficulties of explaining development and underdevelopment from a cultural point of view.  “The Dynamics of Industrial Transformation in Mediterranean Europe in the context of Globalisation and European Unification”.
Turin, 18. September 1996. 

Istituto Sant’Orsola
Lecture: Concetto di valore e mezzi per la sua realizzazione in Durkheim, Simmel e Weber. 
Napoli, 24. September 1997.

Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung (ZIF)
Discussant: Narrativity and Fictionality.
Research Group - Historische Sinnbildung, Bielfeld, 20.-22. Juni 1995.


    Fachgruppe Soziologie
    Empirische Sozialforschung

    Research fields and activities

    • Basic-theoretical conditions for intercultural understanding
    • Meta-theoretical consideration on the concept of culture 
    • Communication, organisation and migration in the European context
    • Intercultural comparison 
    • Translation as a condition for social integration

    Gabriele Cappai teaches methods of empirical research with special emphasis on qualitative methods. His interests also touch theory of culture, social theory and the sociology of migration. Over the past few years his work has developed along the following thematic lines:   

    Culture and Social Action

    Considered as an ensemble of generalized symbols, legitimized through the necessity of orientation and transmitted through socialization, culture is an important dimension of human action. In its cognitive, evaluative or expressive manifestations, culture shapes actors’ beliefs, norms and tastes. Contrary to what neoclassic economists and other scientists sustain, culture is not a residual element that can be ignored by describing or explaining human action.

    On the other hand, contrary to what cultural determinists sustain, culture influences do not take effect on their own. Culture has an important but not exclusive relevance for action. We have also to consider actors' interests and opportunities as two important determinants of action. To assess the specific power of these determinants is always an empirical question.

    An “equilibrated” conception of action must take distance from both tendencies: to explain human action exclusively or mainly in terms of culture or, on the opposite, to explain action making no reference to culture. Cappai illustrates what is meant by an “equilibrated” conception of action, among others, in his research on Shari’ah implementation: Contested Shari’ah. One Law, many interpretations, diverging interests (Cappai 2013). 

    The “Migration Triangle”

    A main element of this research area is the observation that today, in many cases, the decision to migrate is not necessarily followed by a stable process of integration into the host society. Especially in times of precarious labor market conditions and social insecurity, the reinforcement of ties between migrants and society of origin becomes a real need for both collective actors. Migrants look at the origin society as a possible place to engage in transnational activities and the origin society rediscovers “their” migrants, from which they expect support in terms of human and financial capital. These societies do not necessarily want “their” migrants back; what they want is that the stream of remittances will continue in the future. But it is also a matter of fact, that the migrant’s orientations and expectations change in time, and the main factor that causes this change is “learning” in the host society: especially for the second generation, life in democratic, tolerant, well-functioning host societies makes “home” appear less attractive. Migrant’s orientation and their willingness to integrate depend very much on the real opportunities that host societies offer to them. The concept of the “migration triangle” intends to shed light on the phenomenon of migrant orientation, considering contemporarily ongoing processes and interactions between the collective actors in the field. The book Im migratorischen Dreieck. Eine empirische Untersuchung über Migrantenorganisationen und ihre Stellung zwischen Herkunfts- und Aufnahmegesellschaft (Cappai 2005) is an attempt to illustrate these processes.

    Making Empirical Research in Alien Cultures

    The success of empirical research in alien cultures depends very much on the capacity to find an appropriate access into the field. As an outsider, the researcher is confronted with the task to choose methods that minimize mistrust, indifference and even hostility on the side of the informant and that maximize the acquisition of valuable knowledge for his research. This means giving preference to techniques of data collection that are not inquisitive and will encourage open narration.

    But difficulties for researchers working in culturally alien settings result not only from the process of data-collection. Data-interpretation is also a challenge here. What is most important when accomplishing this task is not to fall into the trap of cultural determinism, limiting the efforts to the reconstruction of “conceptual schemes” or “belief systems” of the informants. The logic of the situation that involves opportunities as well as the informant’s wishes must also be part of the interpretive reconstruction. This again presupposes that both are adequately represented in the collected data. The contributions in the publication Forschen unter Bedingungen kultureller Fremdheit (Cappai 2008) intends to provide an introduction to this topic.


    Fachgruppe Soziologie
    Empirische Sozialforschung

    Ausgewählte Publikationen


    Nach der kulturalistischen Wende : Festschrift für Arnold Zingerle zum 65. Geburtstag
    Hrsg.: Cappai, Gabriele; Lipp, Gebhardt; Lipp, Wolfgang
    Berlin : Dunker & Humblot, 2010 . - (Sozialwissenschaftliche Abhandlungen der Görres-Gesellschaft; 29)


    Forschen unter Bedingungen kultureller Fremdheit
    Hrsg.: Cappai, Gabriele
    Wiesbaden : Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2008


    Cappai, Gabriele
    Im migratorischen Dreieck : eine empirische Untersuchung über Migrantenorganisationen und ihre Stellung zwischen Herkunfts- und Aufnahmegesellschaft
    Stuttgart : Lucius & Lucius, 2005 . - (Qualitative Sozialforschung; 6)


    Cappai, Gabriele
    Fra realtà locale e processi globali : emigrazione, associazionismo ed identità nelle società multiculturali ; considerazioni teoriche empiriche e metodologiche
    Halle : Hallescher Verlag, 2000 . - (Akademische Studien & Vorträge; 4)

    Cappai, Gabriele
    Religion und Welt : zum Verhältnis von religiöser Ethik und Welt bei Max Weber
    Nürnberg : Verlag Peter Athmann, 2000


    Cappai, Gabriele
    Modernisierung, Wissenschaft, Demokratie : Untersuchungen zur italienischen Rezeption des Werkes von Max Weber
    Baden Baden : Nomos, 1994 . - (Nomos-Universitätsschriften : Politik; 53)


    Fachgruppe Soziologie
    Empirische Sozialforschung

    Prof. Dr. Gabriele Cappai


    GW II, Raum: 02.20
    Universitätsstraße 30
    95447 Bayreuth


    Universität Bayreuth
    Kulturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / GW II
    95440 Bayreuth

    Sprechzeiten: nach Vereinbarung

    Telefon: +49 (0)921 / 55-4198
    E-Mail: ga.cappai@uni-bayreuth.de

    Verantwortlich für die Redaktion: Barbara Mayer

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