Resident Research Groups
Cognitive Behavior of Humans, Animals, and Machines: Situation Model Perspectives2019/2020
Recent advances in cognitive neuroscience have given us new insights about likely core components of cognitive behavior that exhibits the striking flexibility and context-sensitivity that we see in humans and many animal species. At the same time, progress in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, particularly through deep learning and its connection with other machine learning approaches, along with the availability of sophisticated robots, scenarios and datasets, have opened up new routes for synthesizing intelligent functions. These advances have created a strong basis for a converging and cross-disciplinary challenge: to understand how the emerging functional modules need to be connected in order to enable flexible context-sensitive behavior for both natural cognitive agents as well as for robots to live up to what we would expect from truly intelligent systems.
Research Groups in Preparation
Multimodal Rhetoric in Online Media Communications2020
The Research Group will investigate how the proliferation of media channels enables political sub-communities to manage and control the creation and dissemination of alternative rhetorical discourses, including advertisements that are personalized according to user profiles and false news stories which have been found to spread faster and more widely than true news stories in platforms such as Twitter. Given that these discourses are increasingly supplanting traditional consensus-based media frameworks, it is essential to understand the mechanisms through which these discourses operate. This includes the prime sites identified as carriers of these discourses and the multimodal strategies (linguistic, visual, filmic) used for target audiences and the resultant effects. In particular, we will establish the mechanisms of such rhetorical formations with respect to their relationship with mainstream news and the deployment of social media for their amplification and transportation.
Global Contestations of Women's and Gender Rights2020/2021
The research group's fundamental assumption is that human rights and equality principles have never been universal, never inclusive – despite the promise made by the political revolutions before and after 1800. By contrast, gender has been globally reinforced as a category of social inequality. The divide between legally guaranteed equality principles and the empirical continuation of gender inequality is the starting point of the work programme. However, the research object is the global transformation of the notion and semantics of rights into a shared 'language of contestation'. The research group will examine how the presumed normative consensus about equality principles has become disputable recently in various nationalist political contexts using the example of three empirical arenas in which the contestation of equality principles is particularly manifest: (1) the gendered division of labour, (2) religion, and (3) gendered citizenship regimes and sexual rights.
Research Groups in Postprocessing
'Felix Culpa'? Guilt as Culturally Productive Force2018/2019
During the last decades, it has become more common to appeal to people's sense of guilt regarding current social problems such as economic exploitation or environmental protection. Besides the political instrumentalization, guilt and shame have also been discovered as cultural forces which are able to foster and expedite moral revolutions, for instance. But the development of political discourse to overlap and become indistinguishable with discourses of guilt has also led to a critical stressing of the destructive consequences if collective guilt becomes a leading notion within a culture. In contrast to current research approaches, the main focus of this research group does not lie in the damaging impacts of guilt, of which a person wants to break free or which he or she tries to overcome as quickly as possible.
Understanding Southern Welfare. Ideational and historical foundations of social policies in Brazil, India, China and South Africa2018
The twentieth century was a century of expanding social policy and the rise of the 'welfare state'. During that century, Western nation states turned into 'democratic welfare capitalism' (T.H. Marshall), with social expenditures reaching 20-35% of GDP, and coverage of the population by social security provisions verging towards 100%. In the twenty-first century, the countries of the global South play an increasingly important role in terms of population growth, their share in the global economy, and potential or real global political power. Which route have Southern countries been taking regarding the 'social' side of society?
In Search of the Global Labour Market - Actors, Structures and Policies2017/2018
Globalisation is on everybody's lips. Like few others this catchword epitomises the dynamic changes of present times, not least with regard to labour markets. Never before have such a large number of people emigrated in the hope of better working and living conditions. Never before were so many flight miles spent on business travel. For the highly qualified elites globalisation appears as a cornucopia of opportunities. In less privileged sectors of the labour market, above all in industry, employers refer to the 'pressure of globalisation' to justify the lowering of standards and wages or the shifting of jobs abroad.