Klaus Hurrelmann

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Klaus Hurrelmann (born January 10, 1944 in Gotenhafen ) is a German social, educational and health scientist. After many years at Bielefeld University, he has been working as Professor of Public Health and Education at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin since 2009 .


As a toddler, he fled with his mother from Gotenhafen , today Gdynia near Danzig, from the approaching Red Army , first to Leipzig . After his father's return from captivity at the end of 1947, the family moved to northern Germany, where he grew up in Nordenham . He completed his Abitur at the Humboldt School in Bremerhaven .

From his first marriage to Bettina Hurrelmann , later professor of German studies at the University of Cologne, who died in 2015, he has a son and a daughter. His second marriage is to Doris Schaeffer , Professor of Health Sciences at Bielefeld University.


Hurrelmann studied sociology , psychology and education at the universities of Münster and Freiburg and the University of California in Berkeley (USA) . From 1963 to 1966, in addition to his studies in Münster, Hurrelmann worked as an editor for the student newspaper Semesterspiegel . In 1968 he completed his diploma and in 1971 his doctorate in sociology at the University of Münster. The topic of the doctoral thesis was "Classroom organization and school socialization ". In 1975 he completed his habilitation at Bielefeld University with the thesis "Education system and society".

Working life

From 1968 to 1970 Hurrelmann was the project manager of the “Secondary School Working Group” at the University of Education in Münster . From 1970 to 1974 he worked as a research assistant at Bielefeld University in the Faculty of Sociology with a focus on socialization and educational research .

After his habilitation in 1975 he took over the chair of education and socialization at the University of Essen . In 1980 he followed a call from Bielefeld University to the chair of socialization research. Hurrelmann was the first dean of the newly founded "Faculty of Education". From 1986 to 1998 he headed the Collaborative Research Center of the German Research Foundation (DFG), which he co-founded, on "Prevention and Intervention in Children and Adolescents" with at times 15 interdisciplinary teams.

In 1993, Hurrelmann switched to the newly founded Faculty of Health Sciences in Bielefeld. He was elected the founding dean and was responsible for building the only fully developed German School of Public Health to date . In the Faculty of Health Sciences, he undertook research into the field of prevention and health promotion . On behalf of the World Health Organization, he set up the Collaboration Center for Child and Adolescent Health Promotion . Until 2012, the center coordinated the representative health surveys among 11 to 15-year-old adolescents in the Federal Republic of Germany, which were carried out every four years as part of the Europe-wide study Health Behavior in School-aged Children (HBSC). From 1996 to 2004 he was also director at the Institute for Population Research and Social Policy .

Since March 2009, Hurrelmann has been Professor of Public Health and Education at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. His work focuses on the connection of social , educational and health policy in order to develop comprehensive intervention strategies for the prevention of social and health disadvantages. He also conducts various German and international comparative studies on the attitudes, value orientations and behavior of young people. This includes the Shell youth studies and youth studies in 15 Eastern European and Central Asian countries, which are funded by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

Hurrelmann was a member of the Demography Expert Council at the Federal Minister of the Interior, which from 2010 to 2017 advised the Committee of State Secretaries from various Federal Ministries on the subject of "shaping demographic development" since March 2010. He acted as the deputy head of an expert group that created the National Action Plan for Health Literacy in 2018 . The patronage was the Federal Minister of Health.


  • Prize of the Swiss Margrit Egnér Foundation for his life's work (endowed with 25,000 francs), 2003
  • Awarded the title of Dr. phil. hc by the PH Freiburg, 2018

Scientific work

The model of productive reality processing according to Klaus Hurrelmann in a simplified representation

In theory and research, Hurrelmann places particular emphasis on socialization , childhood, youth and generations, school, education and health. The theoretical approaches he developed for this are widespread and are taken up in sociological, educational, psychological, health science and social medicine research projects.

Socialization theory and research

In his socialization-theoretical approach, the main focus is on the influence of society on personality development. Socialization is defined as follows: Socialization describes the personality development of a person, which results from the productive processing of inner and outer reality. The physical and psychological dispositions and properties form the inner reality for a person, the conditions of the social and physical environment the outer reality. Reality processing is productive because a person always actively deals with his life and tries to cope with the associated developmental tasks (introduction to socialization theory)

Most well-known and also discussed at schools and universities, especially in the subjects of education, social science and health sciences, is his socialization- theoretical model of productive reality processing (MPR) (see figure). Psychological approaches by Urie Bronfenbrenner, Erik H. Erikson and Robert J. Havighurst as well as sociological approaches by George Herbert Mead, Pierre Bourdieu and Jürgen Habermas go into this “metatheoretical” model . The central assumption is that the personality of a person in all phases of life is formed by dealing with the inner reality of body and psyche and at the same time the external reality of the social environment and ecological living environment. The human being as an independent subject then has the lifelong task of harmonizing the processes of social integration and personal individuation.

This task is accomplished in age-specific steps specific to the level of development reached, the development tasks of education / qualification, bonding / social contacts, consumption / regeneration and participation / value orientation over the entire life span. In this sense, socialization consists of complex, constant work on one's own personality, which is successful, but can also fail under unfavorable conditions. Failure results in identity, personality and health disorders.

Socialization theory is presented in the textbook Introduction to Socialization Theory (English Social Structure and Personality Development , and Socialization During the Life Course ) and socialization research in the handbook Socialization Research, in recent years in cooperation with Ullrich Bauer .

Childhood, youth and generation research

Hurrelmann applies the socialization-theoretical concept of developmental tasks primarily to the phases of childhood and adolescence. In the textbooks "Introduction to Childhood Research", "Childhood" and "Childhood Today" the development of basic emotional trust, the development of communication skills and attachment behavior, the development of linguistic expression skills and identification with one's own gender as well as the development of basic sensory and motor skills named as central developmental tasks. For later childhood from the age of six, there is the development of male or female role behavior and the basic skills in reading, writing and arithmetic as well as the development of skills in dealing with media and leisure activities. In this approach, children are seen as independent actors who largely shape their lives.

The theoretical approaches of childhood research have been included in many studies in recent years. Following the same pattern as the Shell youth studies, which focus on 12 to 25 year-olds, Hurrelmann initiated the children's studies, which have been commissioned by the children's aid organization World Vision Deutschland eV since 2007. These studies relate to a representative sample of six to eleven year olds and are co-designed by the TNS Infratest Institute (now TNS Kantar).

The youth phase of life is also conceived by Hurrelmann as an independent phase of life that has slipped between childhood and adulthood over the past 100 years and usually lasts 15 years. This phase of life begins earlier than ever in the previous human life story, because puberty has shifted further and further in the course of life. The outcome of the youth phase is now more open than ever and basically hardly plannable. This has an impact on the ability to cope with development tasks: education and qualifications are becoming more demanding and time-consuming, the resolution of parents and the establishment of personal bonds are shifting, while the development of skills as media users, consumers, business and leisure citizens and political participation are more likely into individual responsibility early on. The theoretical elaboration of this approach can be found in the publications "Lebensphase Jugend" and "Developmental Tasks in Adolescence", in recent years in cooperation with Gudrun Quenzel.

Following the work of Karl Mannheim and Helmut Schelsky, Hurrelmann combines this approach with generational research. The aim is to work out the characteristic shaping of the personality through technical, economic and political events. The permanent confrontation with uncertain future horizons and uncertain life perspectives accordingly leads in the young generation of those born between 1985 and 2000 to a mentality of tentative probing and pragmatic trying out of alternatives. Hurrelmann describes the members of the current young generation, which he also describes as "Generation Y", as "egotactics". The theoretical elaboration of this concept was carried out by him in the non-fiction book The Secret Revolutionaries together with Erik Albrecht.

The book Generation Greta was also created in co-authorship with Erik Albrecht . On the basis of empirical studies and current reports, it portrays the generation of those born after 2000, who have so far mostly been referred to as "Generation Z".

The theoretical approaches of youth research have meanwhile been transferred to numerous empirical studies. In addition to the scientific investigations within the framework of the Collaborative Research Center on Prevention and Intervention in Children and Adolescents , these include, above all, the Shell Youth Studies . Hurrelmann has shaped the new generation of Shell youth studies since 2002, which are carried out together with the TNS Infratest Institute (now TNS Kantar).

Studies on the focus on training and career choice of young people on behalf of McDonald's Germany and on the focus on future provision and finances for young people and young adults on behalf of the MetallRente pension fund have also been added, which are also repeated continuously every three to four years. In addition, there are youth studies from Eastern European countries commissioned by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, in which the difficult economic situation of the young generation and their extremely low confidence in political developments are highlighted.

Educational research

In educational research, the main focus of Hurrelmann's work is on investigations into the family starting conditions for school success and failure. With the help of socialization theory, he explains the very strong dependency of school performance, particularly in Germany, on the family origins of the students through the varying degrees of suggestions and instructions from parents.

According to the research by Hurrelmann, the structure of the school system and the teaching processes also contribute to the poor performance of children from their parents' homes with a socio-economically low status. By setting up learning groups with homogeneous levels of performance and dividing the student body into schools with and without upper secondary school at an early stage following primary school, children with little family learning impulses are systematically disadvantaged.

Since the 1970s, Hurrelmann has been advocating the amalgamation of Hauptschulen, Realschulen and Gesamtschulen to form integrated secondary schools, which receive their own upper level and, thanks to their work and professional orientation, form an educational alternative to the Gymnasium. This is intended to reduce the pressure on parents and children to determine their future educational career as early as the age of 10. All qualifications should be possible at both types of school. This so-called "two-way model" was introduced in 1990 when the two German states were unified in the eastern German states. In the meantime, many West German federal states have also adopted this reform proposal.

Hurrelmann advocates the joint promotion of performance and social skills in all educational institutions. To this end, a school subject health and institutionally firmly anchored approaches to promoting exercise, nutrition and relaxation are to be introduced in everyday school life. The aim is to support the students in coping with all of their age-specific development tasks. Hurrelmann is also committed to intensive cooperation between parents and professional educators and teachers in order to coordinate the various educational concepts. For this purpose, he developed the concept of the "Magical Education Triangle" from the Poles recognition, suggestion and guidance and considers binding parent training to be sensible, which is symbolically concluded with a "parent's license" .

These suggestions were reflected in various programs. The "Growing Up " funding program of the non-profit Lions Quest aid organization , which is scientifically supported by Hurrelmann and is now distributed in 6,000 schools, and the parent training program " Laws of School Success " (GdS), which it supports and which together with Adolf Timm in the book " Strong to School "is explained.

Health research

In health research, the focus of Hurrelmann's work lies at the interface between health sociology and health education. Hurrelmann has published the programmatic works "Handbook of Health Sciences" and "Prevention and Health Promotion".

According to its definition, health refers to "the state of well-being of a person, which is given when this person is psychologically and socially in harmony with the possibilities and goals and the given external living conditions". Accordingly, health is the stage of equilibrium between risk factors and protective factors that occurs when a person manages to cope with both internal (physical and psychological) and external (social and material) demands; it gives a person well-being and joie de vivre.

This definition from the textbook "Health and Medical Sociology" (English "Human Development and Health") is a further development of the definition of health by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In several research projects, Hurrelmann examined the social determinants of health and illness in children and adolescents and showed how closely economic poverty is related to poor education and health. The empirical studies were first developed within the framework of the WHO Collaborating Center and are now being carried out in an international comparison. They also analyze the health behavior of children and adolescents.

The connection between education and health is proving to be very strong. If schoolchildren are burdened by social conflicts in their parents' home, emotional tensions in their peer group, physical and psychological tension or manifest health disorders and illnesses, then their professional performance is blocked. Conversely, school failure and poor performance depress self-esteem and result in impairments to well-being and thus health. For this reason, the "National Health Competence Action Plan", which was significantly influenced by Hurrelmann, recommends the introduction of integrated health care in addition to more health education at daycare centers and schools.

Publications (selection)


Manuals (selection)

Empirical studies

Web links

Commons : Klaus Hurrelmann  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Detlef Berentzen: Master of the magic triangle. In: taz January 13, 2014.
  2. ^ Bielefeld University: Curriculum Vitae.
  3. a b Klaus Hurrelmann, Ullrich Bauer : Introduction to Socialization Theory. 13th edition, Beltz, Weinheim 2000.
  4. Hurrelmann, K. 1988 Social Structure and Personality Development. New York: Cambridge University Press (reprint 2009)
  5. Hurrelmann, K. & Bauer, U. 2018 Socialization During the Life Course. New York: Routledge
  6. Hurrelmann, K., Bauer, U., Grundmann, M. & Walper, S. (Ed.) 2015 Handbuch Sozialisierungforschung. Weinheim: Beltz, 8th edition
  7. Hurrelmann, K. & Bründel, H. 2003 Introduction to Childhood Research. Weinheim: Beltz
  8. ^ Andresen, S. & Hurrelmann, K. 2010 Childhood. Weinheim: Beltz
  9. Bründel, H. & Hurrelmann, K. 2017 Childhood Today. Weinheim: Beltz
  10. a b Shell Germany (ed.) 2019 18th Shell Youth Study. Coordination K. Hurrelmann, M. Albert u. a. Frankfurt: S. Fischer; Shell Germany (ed.) 2006 15th Shell Youth Study. Coordination M. Albert, K. Hurrelmann, u. G. Quenzel
  11. World Vision Germany (ed.) 2013 Children 2013. Coordination S. Andresen, K. Hurrelmann, u. a. Weinheim: Beltz
  12. Hurrelmann, K. & Quenzel, G. 2016 Life phase youth. Weinheim: Juventa, 13th edition
  13. Hurrelmann, K. & Quenzel, G. 2019 Developmental Tasks in Adolescence. New York: Routledge
  14. Hurrelmann, K. & Albrecht, E. 2014 The secret revolutionaries. How Generation Y is changing our world. Weinheim: Beltz
  15. Hurrelmann, K. & Albrecht, E. 2020 Generation Greta. How she thinks, how she feels, and why the climate is just the beginning. Weinheim: Beltz
  16. McDonald's Germany 2017 Job of Tomorrow - School of Yesterday. Munich: McDonald's, cf. Press portal 5.9.2017
  17. Hurrelmann, K., Karch, H. & Traxler, C. (Ed.) 2019 Youth, Pensions, Finances. Weinheim: Beltz Juventa
  18. Hurrelmann, K. Weichert, M. (Ed.) 2015 Lost in democratic transistion. Berlin: FES
  19. ^ Hurrelmann K. 2013 The school system in Germany. The two-way model prevails. Journal for Education 59, 455–467
  20. Hurrelmann, K. 1990 Health promotion for adolescents. Preventive and corrective strategies against problem behavior. Journal of Adolescence 13, 231-250
  21. Master of the magic triangle taz from January 13, 2014
  22. Lions Quest Germany 2010 Growing up. Wiesbaden: Lions Quest
  23. Hurrelmann, K., Timm, A. 2015 Strong in the school. Weinheim: Beltz
  24. Hurrelmann, K. & Razum, O. (Ed.) 2016 Handbook of Health Sciences. Weinheim: Beltz Juventa, 6th edition
  25. Hurrelmann, K., Richter, M., Klotz, T. & Haisch, J. (Ed.) 2018 Reference work on prevention and health promotion. Bern: Huber, 5th edition
  26. Hurrelmann K. & Richter, M. 2013 Health and Medical Sociology. Weinheim: Beltz Juventa, 8th edition
  27. Hurrelmann, K. 1989 Human Development and Health. New York: Springer
  28. Hurrelmann, K. & Richter, M. 2020 Understanding Public Health. New York: Routledge
  29. Quenzel, G. & Hurrelmann, K. (Ed.) 2018 Educational poverty. Wiesbaden: Springer VS
  30. Rathmann, K. & Hurrelmann K. (Ed.) 2018 Performance and well-being in school: The challenge of inclusion. Weinheim: Beltz
  31. Schaeffer, D. Hurrelmann, K., Bauer, U. & Kolpatzik, K. (Ed.) 2018 National Action Plan on Health Literacy. Berlin: compass