Our team consists of researchers in various academic career stages who are pursuing different projects within an overall framework of sociology with a focus on general comparative studies (Soziologie mit dem Schwerpunkt Allgemeiner Gesellschaftsvergleich). Within this framework, the comparative focus is, first, understood as a fundamental methodology in the social sciences and the study of culture. Second, it is also understood as a heuristics applied within societies and by societal actors for reasons of meaning making, within power struggles, in order to forge alliances or to emphasize differences. Some of the research projects are financed through external funding, notably by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft).
A first focal area of our research and teaching is in economic sociology and the sociology of finance. In particular, we study the epistemic dimensions of economic and financial processes. This regards negotiations between politicians and experts over financial supervision and sovereign debt (Carola Westermeier, Andreas Langenohl); the economic theories that enable contemporary financial practices (Sebastian Giacovelli, Andreas Langenohl); the public power of economic expert discourses (Jens Maesse); the role of financial governance for social formation (Benjamin Wilhelm); and the effects of the financial crisis on national economies in Europe (Ralf Jeremias). A broader conceptual framework that addresses ‘exchange’ as a key practice and rhetoric in contemporary societies is in preparation.
A second thematic focus relates to the epistemology of the social sciences and its range from economics to sociology, as well as their impact on societal regimes of knowledge. One interest is to critically review traditional registers of sociological prose, to make a case for alternative registers, and to discuss methodological consequences (Il-Tschung Lim). Another long-term project regards the epistemic interrelations and complicities between neoclassical economics and sociology since the end of the 19th century within a larger epistemological framework of ‘idioms of social analysis’ (Andreas Langenohl). Dirk Medebach engages in an investigation of longer-termed transformation in societal modes of knowledge concerning ageing in society with a particular emphasis on dementia.
The third thematic focus addresses transnationalism, especially those forms that have so far largely escaped scholarly attention, like the transnationalism involved in inter-urban connections (twin towns, sister cities) and that which emerges from the transnational orders of observation of ‘scenes of voting’, that is, of elections and polls (both Andreas Langenohl). In January 2017, a new research project will be launched that will look into the observation and interpretation of recent elections and polls in Russia and Ukraine, deciphering their formative role for the conflict between the two countries (position to be announced shortly).
The team members pursue their projects within collaborative and interdisciplinary frameworks at JLU. Il-Tschung Lim is a co-founder of the thematic section “Cultures of the Political” (Kulturen des Politischen) at the Giessen Graduate Centre for Law, Economics, and the Social Sciences (Gießener Graduiertenzentrum Rechts-, Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften). At the same Centre, Dirk Medebach has co-founded the thematic section “Age(ing) in Society” (Alter(n) in Gesellschaft), contributing his research expertise on the societal ramifications of dementia. Corinna Felsch directs the Integrated Research Training Group (Integriertes Graduiertenkolleg) of the Collaborative Research Centre “Dynamics of Security” at the universities of Giessen and Marburg. Carola Westermeier is a member of the Integrated Graduate Training Group and of the International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC), and Andreas Langenohl is a member of the GCSC’s Executive Board. Felsch, Westermeier and Langenohl are also board members in the Collaborative Research Centre “Dynamics of Security”. Together with doctoral and postdoctoral researchers from other departments, Jens Maesse, Il-Tschung Lim, Sebastian Giacovelli and Benjamin Wilhelm organize a regular postgraduate workshop (Giessener Mittelbaukolloquium Gesellschaftswissenschaften). Andreas Langenohl is linked to the Centre for Media and Interactivity (ZMI) and its focal area “Literalität und Bildung in der Mediengesellschaft”.
Finally, we maintain close research collaborations with various national and international partner institutions and networks, among them the DFG’s Priority Program 1688 “Aesthetic Own-Times”, the DFG Network „Socuiology of Economic Thinking (Soziologie ökonomischen Denkens)“ and the Poland-based network “Analiza dyskursu” Close connections exist with JLU’s international partners at North-West University (South Africa), Kazan Federal University (Russia), the University of Łódź (Poland), and Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia).
Last but not least, we are supported by our office manager Antje Schäfer and by our student assistants Besgül Coskun, Felix A. Wagner, and Pascal A. Wengert.