September 2017 Membership Highlight: Peter Krause
Dr. Peter Krause
Senior Researcher - German Institute for Economic Research / German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP)
ISQOLS Board of Directors Member
ISQOLS Executive Committee Member (Vice President of Professional Affairs)
- Describe your background, experience, and research as it relates to Quality-of-life studies.
Inspired by the spirit of the upcoming social indicators movement quality of life studies accompanied my academic career from the beginning in several ways.
My first job was related to the analyses of living conditions based on quantitative surveys using objective and subjective indicators – according to the framework developed by Wolfgang Zapf and adapted by Wolfgang Glatzer (quality of life studies), Heinz-Herbert Noll (social indicators), and Roland Habich (social reporting). The use of psychological indicators in cross-national surveys – later also broadly applied by economists - together with objective conditions has become constituent for further reports on well-being.
The 0-10-Scale for the measurement of life satisfaction and domain satisfaction has been also included from the beginning into the German Socio-Economic Panel study (SOEP) – a large representative longitudinal survey (enhanced by Gert Wagner), which allowed not only the observation of individuals and households over time but also the analyses of intra-household relations. Then I took over the administration and enhancement of the SOEP data – a set of complex annually surveyed representative household panel data, broadly used by national and international researchers as high standard empirical data sources for manifold kinds of sophisticated research and for (social) policy applications in the field of social and behavioral sciences. My research became than more focused to income distribution and dynamics, inequality and poverty – mainly inspired by Bruce Headey (in cordial friendship). Nevertheless the quality-of-life perspective has been further applied especially to the analyses of the adaptation of living conditions in Germany after reunification (also together with Roland Habich). My current research activities are related on the one hand to the enhancement of measurement approaches for deprivation and wealth for uni- and multidimensional applications in the quality-of-life arena. On the other hand, my activities are related to the interplay of the quality-of-life framework with the capability-approach in the connotation of Sen and Nussbaum with regards to indicators and measurement (there is a fundamental overlap). Both frameworks based on concepts for intergenerational justice are essential for the evaluation of indicators for the preservation of living conditions in the context of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – which have been assigned for the first time as common goals shared by all nations by almost all leaders of the world at the UN-summit in New York in September 2015.
- What initially attracted you to the field of quality-of-life studies?
It was fascinating to find a common interdisciplinary framework for quality-of-life with several theoretical perspectives from various disciplines that fostered both - top research in specific fields within various disciplines on the one hand, and their links to political applications as well as impacts on every-day-life activities on the other.
In the German context, the multidimensional quality of life approach emerged from the tradition of the Living Conditions Approach [“Lebenslagenansatz”], a theoretical concept that also looked at the individual scope of action [“Handlungsspielraum”] and that included elements of an implicit bottom-up perspective on social policy applications in advance, in line with Rawls’ later (1971) seminal work on social justice. This multidimensional approach overlaps in numerous respects with the capability approach as formulated by Sen and Nussbaum. It has been used for the analysis of quality of life in the survey research on well-being, inequality, and poverty and also for the analysis of the adaptation of living conditions after reunification.
Economic well-being may be regarded in this context as a kind of “hardware” indicating the resources and skills and the opportunities and constraints that define and determine our everyday living arrangements, whereas subjective well-being may be regarded as a kind of “software”, our individual ability to navigate and make use of the options that have been generated in the past and that are given as our living conditions for our everyday life activities.
ISQOLS conferences were very attractive for several reasons.  As far as I know, ISQOLS was among the first organizations in the field of social and behavioral sciences with an explicitly one-world perspective at their international conferences with participants from all over the world.  Reports based on social indicators and the development of living conditions in different regions in global as well as a local perspectives were inherent parts of the conferences for a long time.  Even while the focus of ISQOLS is almost by definition closely related to the social and behavioral sciences the conferences were not dominated by just one discipline or theory. Social and behavioral sciences, psychology, economics, philosophy as well as health, education, sustainability or statistics and methods are considered each at eye level.  Also almost from the beginning the implementation of practical policies and programs for the improvement of living conditions have been considered to identify best practices for national and international applications and set aside to the gaining of insights from new research in several fields for practical implementations.
- What are some areas of quality-of-life studies you feel are lacking attention? Any advice for future QoL researchers?
Climate change, digital revolution, rising bio-technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) and dataism, growing world population and limits of natural resources, global migration and rising inequality –all of these trends provide strong challenges for almost any aspect of individual living conditions almost everywhere. We need a better knowledge of the impacts of these trends on living conditions for national and global policies as well as for our every-day-life-experiences. The explicitly global and interdisciplinary network of ISQOLS might be used to foster further research, initiate institutions and tracks, and take influence in (political) debates - to set up and establish a fair ongoing dialog on the preservation of living conditions based on strong conceptual frameworks and high-level cross-national data.
- How long have you been a member of ISQOLS? Why did you choose to be a member of ISQOLS? How has your involvement in ISQOLS impacted your career/research/advancement in your knowledge of QoL studies?
My first direct contact with ISQOLS arised for presentations at the conference in Girona. Since the ISQOLS conference in Philadelphia I attended almost regularly these conferences. In 2009 I was affiliated to the ISQOLS Board of Directors and in 2013 I became a member of the ISQOLS Executive Committee, serving as Vice Director of Programs. In 2014 I run the ISQOLS conference in Berlin (the practical organization has been realized together with Jessica Ordemann) as the first conference in the new annual sequence.
The underlying spirit of ISQOLS – highlighting the diversity of living conditions and challenging inequality and deprivation – had always a major impact on my teaching and empirical research: on the adaptation of living conditions after reunification, on income distribution, inequality and dynamics, on the interplay of subjective evaluation and objective frames, on the meaning of opportunities and capabilities, and on the enhancement of uni- and multi-dimensional measurement approaches for deprivation and poverty as well as for conditions of convenience and wealth.
- Feel free to include any other important comments or things you'd like to share with the ISQOLS community.
The explicitly international and interdisciplinary perspective with direct links between excellent research and practical applications still provides a very flourishing atmosphere for ongoing engagement in the improvement and preservation of living conditions in global and local perspectives. The significance for this kind of joint global networking based on excellent research and strong cross-national and regional data for practical and political applications in a fair spirit is even more in flavor than ever.
Peter Krause can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org