SoQuZ – Social Data as Sources of Contemporary History

he DFG project "SoQuZ - Social Data as Sources of Contemporary History" aimed to develop a framework concept for a research data infrastructure in contemporary historical research.

Project Description

Quantitative and qualitative social research have become the preferred means of introspection in industrial societies. The social data generated in the research process are therefore an indispensable source for research in contemporary history. In recent years, therefore, there has been a turn towards data-based research within contemporary historical research. Historians use data from quantitative and qualitative social research to answer their research questions. In doing so, the data are extracted from their original contexts of origin, contextualized and (re)evaluated. Typical for the historical approach is that very different materials are combined (e.g. data, publications about the data, producer interviews, etc.).

The use of social data, however, poses greater challenges for contemporary historians:

  • Potentially relevant data sets are fragmented in different repositories or data centers, or have not yet been secured for research at all.
  • Legal questions concerning the use of the data are still unresolved. This concerns on the one hand questions of legal ownership and on the other hand questions of data protection.
  • The analysis of social science data requires special skills (e.g., knowledge of statistics) that are rarely included in university history curricula.
  • Currently, there is no offer of established data infrastructures that systematically support historians in indexing and securing rediscovered data.

This project aimed to develop a framework for a data infrastructure for contemporary history research. Before resources are spent on building a sustainable infrastructure, several fundamental questions must be answered:

  • How great is the potential use of social data in contemporary historical research? Can relevant data sets already be identified that are suitable for contemporary historical research?
  • What are the legal boundaries to the use of social data by historians?
  • What kind of support do historians need for the development and use of social data? Which services of existing social science or humanities research infrastructures already cover these needs?
  • How can a data infrastructure for research in contemporary history be implemented? How can sustainability be ensured?

The project aimed to answer these questions and subsequently identify perspectives for the further development of contemporary history data infrastructures within the dynamic developments of the National Research Data Infrastructure and the European Open Science Cloud.


Publications in the DIPF Publication Database


The project was funded by the DFG (German Research Foundation).


Project Management

BBF Project Team

Project Details

Project type: Third-Party Funded Project
Completed Projects
04/2020 – 04/2022
Contact: Sabine Reh