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Thomas Marthaler

Thomas Marthaler

Senior lecturer in Social Work

Fakultät oder Zentrum Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education
Forschungseinheit RU INSIDE
Postadresse Université du Luxembourg
Maison des Sciences Humaines
11, Porte des Sciences
L-4366 Esch-sur-Alzette
Büroadresse MSH, E03 35-150
E-Mail
Telefon (+352) 46 66 44 9248
Fax (+352) 46 66 44 39248

Thomas Marthaler is Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Luxembourg. After his studies in Educational Sciences/Social Work at TU Dresden/Germany he worked in research projects on care-leavers (youth welfare) in Saxonia, and on families in youth welfare in Germany. From 2002 to 2013 he worked as scientific assistant and lecturer at Kassel University focusing on Theories and History of Social Work, Regulations and Organization of Child and Youth Welfare/Child Protection in an international perspective as well as  ‘Social Diagnosis’. He holds a PhD in Social Politics (Dr. rer. pol.) from Kassel University. His doctoral thesis was on paradigms of the family in German Law from 1900 to our days. He was principal investigator of the project ‘Law and transnational Social Work – legal norms of child protection in Africa.’ In 2010 he was guest lecturer in social pedagogy at Universidade Federal de Pelotas/Brazil.

His main research focus resides in the further development of the “Theory of Scales” within the Matrix-Research Project (see under “Current research”). More specifically, and with regard to social work, he is working, together with Claude Haas, on a concept of social work as relational, scaling-sensible bricolage work.

Last updated on: Montag, den 21. März 2016

2002 – Diploma in Educational Sciences (Social Pedagogy and Social Work), TU Dresden

2008 – Doctoral Degree in Social Policy (Dr. rer. pol.), Universität Kassel

2010 – Oct-Dec. Visiting Lecturer at Universidade Federal de Pelotas (UFPel), Brazil



Last updated on: 13 Dez 2013

Towards a "Theory of Scales": the MATRIX-Research Project

Claude Haas & Thomas Marthaler

The MATRIX-research project started by the end of the year 2013. The project’s point of departure was the project leaders’ dealing with the question of how to understand theoretically and operationalise methodologically the social work profession’s contextual embedment in what could be termed as person-related social service organisations and practise fields of social work. On the one hand, this raised further questions of what it means to assume a contextual embedment or ‘embeddedness’ – as it is generally referred to in organisation theory – of professional practise in so-called meso- and macro-environments. On the other hand, questions arose about the resulting implications on the enactment of professional knowledge as well as ethical principles of action with the idea of a context-reflexive professionalism in mind.

In the following theoretical and empirical work on the various facets of the topic, and drawing more specifically on neo-institutional organisation theories, even more questions arose regarding the analysis of actor- and field-related rationalities  respectively institutional logics in their intertwining and contrariness: How to cartography or map collective actors and organisational fields? And what can we learn from such maps with regard to professional intervention and management?

While trying to map the so-called field of work integration through the conduct of a series of expert interviews and ‘falling short of abstraction’, as we would narrate it at a conference of the european network of neo-institutionalism, we started to look out for other perspectives. A very central source of inspiration was constituted right from the beginning of our exploration movement by the work of Marilyn Strathern, especially her considerations on the notion of scale or the plural modes of perceiving and cutting social reality into variously magnified, dichotomised and juxtaposed entities. In our endeavour to make sense about our ‘failing’, our relational life-world-bubbles, as we would currently put it, have gradually opened up towards more fundamental questions of a social theoretical kind.

What we have temporarily covenanted as a ‘Theory of Scales’ is basically about how in relationing to the ‘world’ as a recursive process of eversion of environments within, persons or life-world-bubbles-at-different-places-in-time, unremittingly (re-)invent and covenante scales of ‘animate’ (e.g. four-legged dogs and professional counsellor) and ‘inanimate’ (e.g. water and scientific texts) entity into ontological being in relational scaling work, i.e. ideal-emotional-material cutting. Through the spatio-temporal, recursive iteration of this basic movement, social reality or what could be termed as such, is ever-changing, leaving the ‘observer’ with a sense of brokenness or fractality. Thereby, the term of ‘fractality’ refers to the self-similarity of scales, with the singularity of the spatio-temporal relationality of (relational) persons as the so-called fractal parameter. The ‘scales-come-scale-through-relational-scaling-work-at-places-in-time’ in their fractal dimensionality, entanglement and relativity constitute ever renewed ‘cutouts’ of social reality, that, in turn, is self-similar to other cutouts because of the common basic movement. The terms of ‘eversion’, ‘entanglement’ and ‘environments within’ reveal that in a fractal and postplural theory perspective – if one chooses to make such a categorical classification – persons, places and relations do not ‘constitute’ ontologically separable entities, even though they are continuously cut as such. The theoretical entirety of social reality created through the basic movement of persons in relational scaling work is referred to as ‘matrix’. This term is a metaphor for the universe of fractal reality, which is – in our scaling mode – ontologically constituted out of (relational) persons-in-scaling-work-at-places-in-time.

With regard to these basic assumptions, we refer to research as relational, scaling-sensitive bricolage work and have developed and are still developing - this is perhaps the most important aspect of our work so far - a research methodology that ‘allows’ us to follow how various-persons-and-different-places-in-time are related in scaling work and ‘catch’ the fractality of social reality. The basic movement of relationing and comparing implied, can be equally applied to all kinds of data including interviews, observations or documents. Since the beginning, we have also worked on alternatives to mapping and have developed a visualisation methodology. We are currently working on the refinement of our theory and methodology. In parallel we have begun to reinvent social work, management, counseling, teaching as well as other types of ‘human activity’ as other ‘forms’ of relational, scaling-sensitive bricolage work. In the upcoming months, we publish extensively on our ongoing work.

What is ‘new’ in the social theoretical conception we propose, is to be seen in particular in the ‘integration’ of theoretical perspectives respectively scales of social reality from scientists of different disciplines and schools. In this regard should be mentioned, besides Strathern, the works of the social anthropologists Holbraad and Pedersen, Henare, Holbraad and Wastell, Munro or Wagner, STS (Science and Technology Studies) researcher Jensen and Gad, sociologists Abbott, Schütz and Luckmann, as well as Klatetzki, mathematician Mandelbrot or physicist Nottale.



Last updated on: 18 Feb 2016

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2017

See detailSulla nozione di “emergenza” e i suoi effetti sul lavoro sociale
Haas, Claude; Limbach-Reich, Arthur; Marthaler, Thomas

Scientific Conference (2017, June 28)

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See detailEmergence et chaos: imprévisibilité et travail de bricolage
Haas, Claude; Limbach-Reich, Arthur; Marthaler, Thomas

Scientific Conference (2017)

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See detailSoziale Arbeit - quer gedacht
Haas, Claude; Marthaler, Thomas

Presentation (2017, July)

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See detailLieux en travail - Bonnevoie en mouvement
Haas, Claude; Marthaler, Thomas; Uhler, Nicolas

Report (2017)

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See detailPolitische, soziale und rechtliche Systeme und der "westkulturelle Pluralismus"
Marthaler, Thomas; Haas, Claude

E-print/Working paper (2017)

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2016

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See detail"Erwachsene" als relationale-Personen-in-Skalierungsarbeit-an-Orten-in-der-Zeit
Haas, Claude; Marthaler, Thomas

E-print/Working paper (2016)

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See detailTowards a scaling-sensitive social research work
Haas, Claude; Marthaler, Thomas; Uhler, Nicolas

Scientific Conference (2016, August)

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See detailRelationality and scaling-sensitivity in action: About persons as 'clients' of 'human services'
Marthaler, Thomas; Haas, Claude; Uhler, Nicolas

Scientific Conference (2016, August)

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See detailText analysis reinvented: towards a scaling-sensitive approach
Uhler, Nicolas; Haas, Claude; Marthaler, Thomas

Scientific Conference (2016, August)

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See detailGemeinwesenarbeit als relationale skalierungssensible Örtlichkeitsarbeit
Uhler, Nicolas; Haas, Claude; Marthaler, Thomas

E-print/Working paper (2016)

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2015

See detailVom Individuum und Akteur zur relationalen Person
Haas, Claude; Marthaler, Thomas

Diverse speeches and writings (2015)

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See detailFrom mapping to scaling fields: A narrative about a theory and methodology development process
Haas, Claude; Marthaler, Thomas

Scientific Conference (2015, March)

See detailVom "Mappen" zum "Skalieren" von Feldern
Haas, Claude; Marthaler, Thomas

Diverse speeches and writings (2015)

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See detailFrom mapping to scaling fields
Haas, Claude; Marthaler, Thomas

Scientific Conference (2015, March)

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See detailSkalierungen des Kindeswohls - fraktale Narrative zwischen Recht und Moral
Marthaler, Thomas

Scientific Conference (2015, December 11)

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See detailScaling-Reflexive Teaching for Scaling-­Reflexive Professionalism
Marthaler, Thomas; Haas, Claude

Scientific Conference (2015, June)

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2014

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See detailA propos des rapports entre économie sociale et solidaire et insertion professionnelle
Haas, Claude; Marthaler, Thomas

Presentation (2014, March 25)

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2012

See detailRationalitätenvielfalt im Kinderschutz - eine Einführung
Bode, Ingo; Marthaler, Thomas; Bastian, Pascal; Schrödter, Mark

in Marthaler, Thomas; Bastian, Pascal; Bode, Ingo; Schrödter, Mark (Eds.) Rationalitäten des Kinderschutzes. Kindeswohl und soziale Interventionen aus pluraler Perspektive (2012)

See detailZum Umgang mit dem Kindeswohl - ein Essay aus neoinstitutionalistischer Perspektive
Marthaler, Thomas

in Marthaler, Thomas; Bastian, Pascal; Bode, Ingo; Schrödter, Mark (Eds.) Rationalitäten des Kinderschutzes. Kindeswohl und soziale Interventionen aus pluraler Perspektive (2012)

See detailRationalitäten des Kinderschutzes. Kindeswohl und soziale Interventionen aus pluraler Perspektive
Marthaler, Thomas; Bastian, Pascal; Bode, Ingo; Schrödter, Mark

Book published by Springer VS (2012)

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2010

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2009

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