Laura Emmy Bieder is an NRW Fellow at AGI from May to June 2022.
For the last two years, Ms. Bieder worked as a research assistant at the NRW School of Governance, University of Duisburg-Essen. As a member of the project group “Identity and Social Cohesion in the Ruhr Region,” she carried out a mixed-method research project about identity and social cohesion in the German metropolitan area “Ruhrgebiet.” The Ruhrgebiet was formerly known as one of Europe’s biggest and most important industrial regions, especially for coal mining and steel production. This not only defined the region’s economy but also played a crucial role for the citizens’ identity. However, the coal industry’s actual economic importance has been declining since the early 1960s; therefore, pits, headgear, and miners’ culture is nothing but folklore, tradition, and a touch of nostalgia. The research project provides a study about today’s social identity in the region, addresses whether heavy industry still plays a role in terms of identity, and sheds a light on social cohesion in the Ruhr area considering the challenging economic changes over the last few decades.
Following this project, Ms. Bieder will begin her PhD project, where she will examine both the logic of group identity and its effects on social cohesion as well as identity in the case study of the Ruhr region.
During her time at AGI, she will focus on several U.S. programs and projects intended to strengthen cohesion and lower the bars between groups with different social identities. On that basis, she intends to determine if these programs would fit for the comparatively diverse and heterogeneous federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) in Germany as well.