Steffen Mau receives Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize 2021


We are delighted to announce that Steffen Mau has been honoured with the Leibniz Prize, the most important and distinguished research advancement award in Germany, for his work.

Daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reports:

»For sociologists to write page turners one loves to read in bed at night is rather the exception. If there is anyone who manages to translate an in-depth analysis of society into lucid prose, it’s sociologist Steffen Mau.

The name of the Professor for Macrosociology at the Humboldt University of Berlin is forever linked to Rostock’s Plattenbau areas. This is where he, who would later become a tremendously productive scientist, grew up in the 1970s. In his book Lütten Klein, he memorialised the eponymous neighbourhood of newly constructed residential buildings in a sociological-biographical manner.

© Jürgen Bauer

Now Mau has been awarded the Leibniz Prize, the most important science prize in Germany, for his research. This year’s laureates were announced by the German Research Foundation (DFG) on Thursday afternoon.


The Leibniz Prize is endowed with 2.5 million Euros and has been awarded since 1996 […]. The Governing Mayor of Berlin Michael Müller (SPD) congratulated the two recipients from Berlin: ›Both are among the best of their fields and have made major contributions to the advancement of their respective fields of research,‹ explained Müller.

Humboldt University’s sociologist Steffen Mau is the only scientist in the fields of the humanities or social sciences among the prize winners. The mental landscape of East Germany has rarely been charted as emphatically and precisely as it has been in his much-praised bestseller Lütten Klein. Life in the GDR and the processes of transformation that began within the structure of East German society after the Fall of the Berlin Wall are described in the mode of ›distanced closeness‹. The tensions and ›societal fractures‹ of the present, says Mau, originate in the era of the ›first socialist nation on German soil‹.

When the iron curtain falls, Steffen Mau is serving with the Nationale Volksarmee (NVA). He goes on to study sociology and political sciences at the Free University of Berlin and the University of Bristol and obtains his doctoral degree from the European University Institute in Florence – the first East German doctoral student to do so. In 2005, he receives a professorship of political sociology at the University of Bremen and subsequently moves to Berlin in 2015.

Processes of change within society, European integration and migration as well as socioeconomic inequality become the focus of his research. Despite the fact that he is often referred to as the expert on East German sensitivities: Steffen Mau, who has also taught in Sweden, France and the UK as part of various visiting professorships and fellowships, is certainly not exclusively focused on East Germany. He has also researched the social structures of different European countries, transnational processes of social ownership and the ›opportunities‹ of the shrinking middle classes. […]«

(source: Der Tagesspiegel, 11.12.2020. To read the article in full, click here.)

Lütten Klein
Steffen Mau
Lütten Klein