Richard Münch, born in 1945, studied sociology, philosophy and psychology at the University of Heidelberg from 1965 to 1970, earning the degree of Master of Arts in 1969 and the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1971. In 1972, he received his Habilitation in sociology from the University of Augsburg, where he was employed from 1970 to 1974 as assistant at the Chair of Socio-Economics and Communication Science. From 1974 to 1976, he taught as professor of sociology at the University of Cologne, from 1976 to 1995 at the University of Duesseldorf, and from 1995 to 2013 at the University of Bamberg, where he was awarded the title Emeritus of Excellence in 2013.
Since 2015, he has been Senior Professor for Theory of Society and Comparative Macrosociology. He served as visiting professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, on several occasions and was a member of the editorial board of the American Journal of Sociology, Annual Review of Social Theory, Sociological Theory, Zeitschrift für Soziologie, and Soziologische Revue. From 2002 to 2012, he was the speaker of the interdisciplinary graduate program Markets and Social Systems in Europe at the University of Bamberg, funded by the German Research Foundation. He was a member and chairman of the advisory board at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Society, Cologne, and is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. In 2018, he received the award for outstanding lifetime achievements of the German Sociological Association.
After Richard Münch had dealt in his dissertation and in his Habilitation thesis with the foundations of the theory of action and the theory of society (Mentales System und Verhalten, Mohr Siebeck, 1972; Gesellschaftstheorie und Ideologiekritik, Hofmann und Campe, 1973), he turned to the classical and modern contributions to social theory (a. o. Theorie des Handelns, Suhrkamp, 1982; Theory of Action, Routledge, 1987; Understanding Modernity, Routledge, 1988).
The further work on theory aimed at a broad comprehension of the different streams of theory and their contribution to the explanation of human activity, order and the change of society (Sociolocal Theory, 3 volumes, Nelson Hall, 1994; Sociologische Theorie, 3 vols, Campus, 2002-2004).
Building on his work on the theory of society, Richard Münch has conducted broadly based historical and comparative studies on the development of modern society (Die Struktur der Moderne, Suhrkamp, 1984; Die Kultur der Moderne, 2 vols., Suhrkamp, 1986; The Ethics of Modernity, Rowman & Littlefield, 2001). Since the beginning of the 1990s, he has devoted himself to the investigation of the structural change of society in the present. On the one hand, it deals with the causes, forms and consequences of the global expansion, densification and acceleration of communication (e.g., Dialektik der Kommunikationsgesellschaft, Suhrkamp, 1991; Dynamik der Kommunikationsgesellschaft, Suhrkamp, 1995), on the other hand about the structural change of identity, socidaritiy and socicial integration in the wake of the Europeanization and globalization of social live (among others, Das Projekt Europa, Suhrkamp, 1993; Globale Dynamik, lokale Lebenswelten, Suhrkamp, 1998; Offene Räume, Suhrkamp, 2001; Nation and Citizenship in the Global Age, Palgrave Macmillan, 2001; Die Konstruktion der europäischen Gesellschaft, Campus, 2008; Das Regime des liberalen Kapitalismus, Campus, 2009; Das Regime des Pluralismus, Campus, 2010; Das Regime des Freihandels, Campus, 2011; European Governmentality, Routledge, 2010; Inclusion and Exclusion in the Liberal Competition State, Routledge, 2012; The Global Division of Labour, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). In his current research, Richard Münch investigates the changes in the academic field in the context of intensified international competition (e.g. Die akademische Elite, Suhrkamp, 2007; Globale Eliten, lokale Autoritäten, Suhrkamp, 2009; Akademischer Kapitalismus, Suhrkamp, 2011; Academic Capitalism, Routledge, 2014).
Similarly, he engages in international comparative research on the effects of international educational competition and changes in the governance of education on raising educational achievement, reducing educational inequalities due to family background, and transforming education, schools, and teaching (u. a. Der bildungsindustrielle Komplex: Schule und Unterricht im Wettbewerbsstaat. Beltz Juventa, 2018; Governing the School under three Decades of Neoliberal Reform: from educracy to the EducationIndustrial Complex. Routldge, 2020).
In 2018, the German Sociological Association honored Richard Münch with the Prize for an Outstanding Lifetime Achievement, and in 2022 he received the Meyer-Struckmann Prize of the Faculty of Philosophy at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf for research in the humanities and social sciences.
The research of Richard Münch was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) through a number of third-party projects: