Décrire l’époque, ce n’est pas la refléter passivement, c’est vouloir la changer
Social philosopher of German origin. Between 1995 and 2013 he worked at University College Cork, School of Applied Social Studies where he occupied at the end of his engagement there the position of a senior research fellow. 2013 he moved to Rome.
Currently, since September 2017, he is guest researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law ad Social Policy, Munich, Germany.
Besides, he is associate professor at the Department of Social Sciences of the University of Eastern Finland and he holds a permanent visiting professorship as honorary associate professor at the Corvinus university (Faculty of Economics, Department of World Economy) in Budapest, Hungary. He is also Visiting Scholar at the Department of Chinese Studies at NUI Maynooth, Ireland.
Until 2013 he had been director of the independent research institute ESOSC (European Social, Organisational and Science Consultancy) with the headquarter based in Aghabullogue, Ireland. After the move to Italy the work of the institute had been discontinued. He works currently as social philosopher and economist globally in various contexts, especially Budapest, Hangzhou, Moscow and Rome.
Herrmann studied sociology (Bielefeld), political science (Leipzig) and economics in Hamburg. 1981 he obtained the diploma in sociology from the university in Bielefeld and his doctorate in 1992 from the university in Bremen.
At the institute for local social policy and non-profit organisations in Bremen, Herrmann analysed in close cooperation with Rudolph Bauer and Jürgen Blandow the politics and policies of non-governmental organisations.
He focused on the meaning of the process of European integration for national social policy and the impact on the third sector.
While studying sociology, Herrmann concentrated on the sociology of organisation – this had been also the subject of his PhD-dissertation, titled “Society and organisation. An analysis of modern society” (Rheinfelden/Berlin: Schäuble, 1994). With this work he integrated topics of social policy, civil society, theory of modernisation and general philosophy. His methodological thinking had been and still influenced by historical and dialectical materialism, systems theory and the theory of civilisation. Against this background he undertook several studies, especially in the area of European integration. Although he initially concentrated on organisations in the social area and on charities and their role in the overall societal development, he worked also in other areas. Special mention deserve the studies of service providers and the services of general interest. In this context he collaborated especially with Mathias Maucher, at the time at the Institute of Social Work and Social Pedagogies, Observatory of Development of Social Services in Europe, Frankfurt/Main in Germany.
Based on Herrmann’s experience gained from the work at the Platform of Social NGOs and the European Social Action Network (ESAN) he took an increasingly critical position towards the subtle mechanisms of the process of European integration. He subsequently tried to highlight the importance of processes of democratisation on the national level and of the institutional systems of governing and to push for their consideration in the work of NGOs
The close cooperation with the European Foundation on Social Quality and namely with Laurent van der Maesen, pushed his analytical interest in the search for an alternative. His thorough research, geared against political voluntarism and based in a systematic analysis of forms of government and the respective social policy gave important impulses.
Research visits in – amongst others – Australia (at the Cairns Institute), Austria, France, Germany, Hungary (there at the ELTE – Eötvös Loránd university in connection with Zsuzsa Ferge), Sweden, Taiwan (on invitation of the Institute of Humanities and Social Science) and Turkey (at ODTÜ – Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, supported by TÜBİTAK – Türkiye bilimsel ve Teknolojik Arastirma) confirmed his critical attitude towards traditional approaches of social policy. Increasingly important had been his orientation on a critique of political economy.
Beyond the contacts mentioned before, further cooperation is important and three references are crucial.
Together with the Austrian political scientist and one of the founders of quantitative world systems research, Arno Tausch, Herrmann elaborated some publications. This acquainted Herrmann more with world systems theory. This also meant strengthening his orientation on a critique of political economy. Herrmann’s cooperation with the French Marxist economist Paul Boccara allowed him to link his work closely with the question of the general role of the state. The common work contributed not least to Herrmann’s orientation on the work of the French regulationist approach. Herrmann is also since its inception founding member of the network S.U.P.I. (Social Uncertainty, Precarity, Inequality). In this way he links his contributions on the one hand to Social Quality and on the other hand to a world systems perspective of the theory of regulation.
Based on his work in Taipei a close development partnership had been established with the Social Policy Centre at the National Taiwan University. In cooperation with Lih-Rong Wang and Pei Shan Yang he encouraged a debate that had been concerned with the possibilities for policies of social quality for Taiwan. In this context he worked also with Hsiao-Hung Chen, Ming-Cheng Kuo Ming-Fang Chen and others.
Based on this work he had been able to strengthen the attempts of locating the work on Social Quality within the framework of world systems theory. Currently his work focuses on establishing a political economic perspective as essential part of the social quality approach. Of special importance is the regulationist theory which is at the same time developed further by being applied within a different framework.
With the emphasis of mechanisms of regulation into the immediate context of political economy the work on the social economy deserves some special interest in Herrmann’s research. Especially the work in the context of the University of Eastern Finland, in particular with Juhani Laurinkari is in this context an important field for furthering his research.
Moreover, Herrmann is correspondent to the Max Planck Institute for Social Policy and Social Law (previously Max-Planck Institute for Foreign and International Social Law) in Munich, Germany. This allowed him to work occasionally for some time at the institute. Intensive exchange especially with Hans F. Zacher but also with Bernd Schulte, Maria Hohnerlein and the social law expert Nuría Pumar-Beltran from Barcelona motivated him to study more closely the ambiguity of social and human rights law. He investigated their role as part of the superstructure of the hegemonic system of capitalism but also their relative independent role. In his work he emphasises that this legislation is not only a matter of immediate legitimation of the existing system. It can also play a role as potential grounding for the development of alternative political and systemic strategies. However, he emphasises – especially with reference to Zacher – that this depends not least on the consideration of the “pre-legal” determination of law.
His academic work is not least expressed in his engagement as member of the scientific council of the German branch of attac and in the EuroMemo Group – a network of economists that is looking for alternative policies.
The different connections, Herrmann established over time, based on the wide range of topics, linked him since 2011 also to the work of the Eurasian Center for Big History and System Forecasting at the Moscow State University, Russia.
In 2011 Herrmann stayed for some time at the Orta Dogu Teknik Üniversitesi (ODTÜ) in Ankara, Turkey and at the Max Planck Institute for Social Policy and Social Law, Munich in Germany. Currently he works on formulating the strong connection between economy, law and (social) policy in clear analytical terms and clearly locate them in the context of current socio-economic developments.