The Sociology of Services

Services dominate economic processes  in those countries traditionally labelled as developed industrial countries. Yet services are by no means limited to social and distributive services for particular individuals or households as they are increasingly being established as new structures and processes that first make material production possible (research, development, logistics, financing and so on). Material goods are increasingly being offered in conjunction with services (hybrid products). The economic and social sciences evolve concepts and theories that help us to gain a better understanding of services and of the tertiarisation process - the shift from the primary and secondary sectors of the economy to the tertiary services sector. The shift that now may be widely observed from a production-oriented to a services-oriented perspective on industry and technology is one that forms the field of enquiry for the newly emerging discipline of Service Science. The sociology of services enquires into how increasing service penetration of the economy and everyday life affects the relationship between the individual and society, and what an increase in services-based activities – including in production – means for people in employment and society at large. Services are seen as a genuine social phenomenon which may only be understood by considering the ways people interact with one another and the social institutions which crystallise out of such interactions. From this perspective it follows that innovation in services creates new options for action on the part of users and thus should also be seen as social innovations.

Current conferences: 

„Services and economic development: local and global challenges“, Conference RESER 2012, 20 – 22. September 2012, Bucharest, Romania,

„Challenge social innovation. Stream: Understanding service innovation as social innovation“, ICICI 2011 International Conference on Indicators and Concepts of Innovation, NET4SOCIETY Networking Event for Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities in the 7th Framework Programme, 19 - 21 September 2011, Vienna/ Austria,

Sozialwissenschaftliche Dienstleistungsforschung. Beiträge zur Service Science. Erste Tagung der Initiative Social Science Service Research (3sR),  26. und 27.1.2012 im Literaturhaus München

Current publications:

Jacobsen, Heike (2013): Social Research Research on Services and Service Work in Germany – from the ‚Service Gap’ to Service Professionals, in: Dunkel, Wolfgang, Kleemann, Frank (Eds.): Customers at Work. New Perspectives on Interactive Service Work, Palgrave MacMillan (forthcoming)

Jacobsen, Heike (2012): Dienstleistung und Dienstleistungsgesellschaft, in: Handwörterbuch zur Gesellschaft Deutschlands, Herausgegeben von Steffen Mau und Nadine M. Schöneck, VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, voraussichtlich 2012 (1. und 2. Auflage 1998 und 2001 hrsg. von Bernhard Schäfers und Wolfgang Zapf) (in Vorbereitung)

Jacobsen, Heike (2012): Service Innovation as Social Innovation, in: Hochgerner, Josef, Jürgen Howaldt (ed.) Challenge Social Innovation, Palgrave (forthcoming)

Jacobsen, Heike (2012): Research on Work and Employment in Services in Germany – from the ‚Service Gap’ to Service Professionals, in: Wolfgang Dunkel & Frank Kleemann (eds.): Customers at Work. New Perspectives on Interactive Service Work, Palgrave MacMillan (forthcoming)