Institute of Sports Science

Social and Public Health Sciences

Under the direction of Prof. Dr. Ansgar Thiel department IV focuses on the sociology of sport, health and the body. Furthermore, the department is responsible for teaching several traditional sport disciplines as well as health and fitness sports.


Our research is based on sociological and socio-psychological analyses which primarily focus on the following topics: managing health in sports, body-based stereotyping and stigmatization, integration in sports, the development of sport organizations, and managing social conflicts in sports. The research is multi-methodological and interdisciplinary in its orientation. We therefore cooperate with research partners from various disciplines, for example psychosomatic and sport medicine, social psychology, and social epidemiology. Consequently, quantitative and qualitative social research methods as well as experimental designs are employed.

With regards to third party funded research, we were able to carry out several large interdisciplinary research projects within the last couple of years. Funded by Germany’s Federal Institute of Sports Science (BISp), the GOAL-Study (2009-2014) was conducted. It investigates the handling of health among elite adolescent athletes and represents the largest interdisciplinary study worldwide on this topic. Further larger cooperation-based studies have been dealing with stigmatization of obese people and with the social conditions of physical activity at old age. The results of the research were published in renowned journals of different disciplines including sport sociology, sport psychology and sport medicine. We have also been able to publish the research results in distinguished national and international journals of sociology, social psychology, and medicin (Publications).

In the last couple of years, our department was also able to create a research network with colleagues from various countries. The goal is to conduct international comparative studies about important social issues dealing with sports and physical activity.

The transfer of expertise into sports practice is of high relevance. In order to realize this goal, we organize lectures, workshops, and consultations for various sport organizations and public institutions. In this context, there have been collaborations with (among other partners) the Trainer Academy of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (“Deutscher Olympischer Sportbund”, DOSB), the German Handball Confederation (“Deutscher Hanballbund”, DHB), the Sports Association of the State of Baden-Württemberg (“Landessportverband Baden-Württemberg”, LSV), the Sports Association of the Region of Württemberg (“Württembergischer Landesportbund”, WLSB), the Swabian Gymnastics Association (“Schwäbischer Turnerbund”, STB), the educational institution KICKFAIR, and various municipalities.