Our research activities
Our understanding of research is inter- and transdisciplinary. Our set of methods and theories includes approaches of social space analysis, participatory action research, dialogical-ethnographic approaches, policy and discourse analysis, actor and governance analysis, as well as spatial process and structural analysis. Many of our research projects are carried out together with actors from urban and regional development. In the scientific monitoring and evaluation of projects and programmes, we work predominantly formatively and with programme-theoretical models. In addition, we work on current problems of socio-spatial development in teaching research projects together with students.
The analysis and explanation of social inequality is an essential task of sociology. Numerous theories and concepts can be utilised for this purpose, including class theories, stratification and milieu concepts and intersectional approaches. Our research in this field is primarily inspired by praxeological approaches and pursues a socio-spatial perspective: How does social inequality manifest itself in space, and how do spatial contexts influence manifestations of inequality? Our research interest is also directed towards the possibilities of avoiding social and spatial exclusion, stigmatisation and discrimination and promoting social participation in urban development.
Urban development is always caught between technical and economic feasibility and highly differentiated social and societal demands and possibilities for action. Renewal interventions in the urban functional stock directly affect the living environments of the residents and users, who are affected differently due to their specific and diverse requirements and interests. In this respect, urban renewal represents a planning field of action with special social responsibility. Our research in this field focuses on analysing the effects of spatial-functional interventions on social structures and the critical reflection of the underlying planning concepts, strategies and instruments.
In urban and regional development, diverse forms of governance and coordination have been applied since the 1980s, ranging from forms of self-organisation and participatory approaches to hierarchical control of collective action in the context of collective issues. Our research in this thematic field analyses legal-institutional contexts, actor constellations, legitimation and forms of interaction of governance arrangements in spatial planning.
Many factors influence how we live - from architecture to the housing market to group-specific and individual housing preferences. Mobility behaviour is also shaped by numerous spatial, social, technical and economic influences. Our research projects in this thematic field deal with the changes in forms of housing and mobility, as well as other aspects of everyday life such as energy consumption and use of open space, among others, and their challenges for spatial planning.
Sociological research into technology looks at the factors driving technological developments and their significance for social transformation. The now commonplace use of smartphones, for example, has far-reaching consequences not only for the shaping of everyday life but also for the economic and social structuring of society. In order to understand the social dimension of technological change and digitalisation, in particular, the interactions between social and technical innovation and the significance of technical developments for social coexistence and individual action and behaviour are examined. The spatial impact of technological change forms a focal point of our research: How do patterns of space use change, what disparities result from this and what opportunities for integration and inclusion are opened up?