On an espresso with ... Dr. Sonja Bastin
Dr. Sonja Bastin, born in 1984, studied sociology and social studies at the University of Bremen between 2004 and 2010 and obtained her doctorate at the Max-Planck-Institute for Demographic Research. Since 2016, our alumna has been working as a research associate at the Bremen SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy.
Congratulations, Sonja! You have been named “Woman of the year 2021” along with ten other women in Bremen. What was this award for?
It was about care work. With this distinction, women were honored who have worked hard within their systemically relevant activities throughout the pandemic. The Bremen women’s committee Landesfrauenrat Bremen has thus called attention to a wide array of care work. I myself have mainly pointed out in sociopolitical analyses that we have had a care crisis even before the pandemic and have suggested how to overcome this crisis.
How can it be changed?
It needs profound changes. We need a committee representing all care sectors, that is private households but also daycares and hospitals. These experts can then develop concrete measures. It has to be acknowledged, for example, that people who care for somebody at home cannot also work a 40-hour week. One idea in this case is to implement normal working hours of 30 hours for everyone, plus additional payments for community service such as caring for your own children, nursing relatives, or other social tasks. Additionally, the government should keep its promise concerning the support of household-related services.
You studied at the University of Bremen and are now working at a research institute here. Why did you choose the University of Bremen?
I am from Stade, and part of the decision was the proximity. Already then, I had a bit of responsibility in the caring sector because I had to look after my three younger siblings. I wanted to study sociology although I was told a lot that it would have precarious job prospects in store for me. At the same time, the crisis shows particularly well how important social sciences are and that structures are analyzed, suggestions made, also preventatively, in order for society to function. That’s why I’m glad to have gone my own path.
How did you perceive your studies?
A great revelation, although quite unexpected at first, was how important data and statistics are, the entire field of social research, and how much can be said about society with them. I was in excellent hands. Especially those of Dr. Manuela Pötschke, who strongly encouraged us to dive deep into this world of data. Thematically, I am without a doubt a student of Professor Johannes Huinink, who later was my doctoral supervisor as well.
But you did not complete your entire degree in Bremen?
I did a semester abroad in Melbourne and my doctorate in Rostock, but I came back afterwards because I was actually yearning for Bremen and this university. After the positive experiences as a student and student assistant, I could always picture continuing my work here. All fit well together, the professional side of it and the entire atmosphere at the university.
What do you connect with fifty years of the University of Bremen?
The issue of equality. In the framework of the fifty-year celebrations, we held the ‘Equal Care Day Bremen’ event. This fits in directly with the history and agenda of the university, which had made equality a topic right from the start. This was reflected also within the university leadership, research groups, and the students’ commitment. With a new series of events called ‘carat – caring all together’ starting this summer, we want to build on that.
P.S.: By the way, Dr. Sonja Bastin had a conversation with Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Hubertus Heil last year, where they spoke about the support of parents in crisis.