Dr. Michaela Muylkens

+49 (0)441 798-4756


Prof. Dr. Thomas Alkemeyer

Prof. Dr. Dagmar Freist

Social Transformation and Subjectivation

Societies conceive of themselves by constructing an imaginary future for themselves in a variety of cultural media—in buildings, rituals, games and various types of contest. These self-conceptions combine with institutions and techniques for designing nature, society, and self in contexts such as urban and landscape planning, politics, education, sports, and medicine. These model social realities and provide actors with guidelines for ‘responsible’ conduct. Using methods of historiography, cultural analysis, sociology, and praxeology, we reconstruct interactions between interpretive schemes, social transformations and subject formations. Our work is in part motivated by an interest in the kinds of friction that occur whenever actors, as they make themselves into subjects, become capable of critiques of social realities.

This research area is represented in the Graduate College ‘Self-Making’ and the Research Centre Genealogy of the Present (WiZeGG), in our participation in the research and doctoral programmes ‘Reflexive Responsibilization’ and ‘Cultures of Participation’, as well as numerous related individual research programmes. Our close cooperation, as well as overlaps in research interests, with the research area ‘Diversity and Participation’ promise synergies and complementarities, for example with respect to the question which effects are engendered when societies define themselves as ‘culturally diverse’.

In the future, we aim to build a well-defined and innovative research area centred on the ‘Genealogy of the Present’ by focusing on the relationships between social transformation and subjectivation. Exemplary themes include the mutual shaping of societal spaces and social actors during the Early Modern period as well as the analysis of political interventions as strategies for the reduction of complexities of societies that define themselves as ‘contingent’. In the future, we intend to develop WiZeGG into a place for cooperation between academic disciplines and departments, to establish a research institute devoted to global micro-histories, and to strengthen our connections to, and cooperation with, the research areas ‘Diversity and Participation’ and ‘Sustainability’.

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