Social Theoretical Perspectives

Foundations of Socioeconomics

Socioeconomics refers to an interdisciplinary research field that includes and integrates economic, sociological, political, legal, historical, and psychological perspectives. The idea has a long tradition. In the nineteenth century, the term social economics was used to describe economics as a general social science, but it also became linked with the ‘social economy’ as a specific sector. In times of the ‘dispute over methods’ (Methodenstreit) in the field of economics, it came to stand for an integrated view of economy and society against the increasing differentiation of economic theory from economic history and economic sociology. Today, this broader vision of economics, which is shared by most scholars at the department and our institute, is faced with a new contender: behavioral economics, which likewise promotes an interdisciplinary research agenda but focuses largely on the intersections of economics with psychology. One key question is how the conceptions of the ‘social’ differ in neoclassical economics, behavioral economics, and socioeconomics.

Structuro-genetic perspectives

Socio-cultural lifestyles are diverse and cannot be determined in absolute terms, making their analysis a constituent element in the generation of social science knowledge. Conceptualized within a constructivism framework, this research area focuses on the non-ontological conditions of epistemology. Methodologically, we start from differences in human lifestyles, in order to develop a sociological theory of their constitution. The main questions are: Under which conditions do which types of lifestyle develop, and which structures emerge in societies, groups, and subjects? How do they progress in terms of social change? These conditions are analyzed empirically and finally reconstructed in a historical-genetic framework. The research is oriented towards developing societal theory while working with concrete research questions that address current social and political issues (such as social justice, democracy, social policy etc.).

Perspectives of cultural theory

The focus of this research area is the interdependence between social, cultural and economic phenomena. As such, the inter- and transdisciplinary research is based on various disciplines such as sociology, philosophy, and cultural anthropology, with a particular emphasis on Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of social fields. Cultural theory is applied to cross-cutting topics as well as to particular research field such as:

  • The symbolic economy of gift exchange

  • The logic of cultural fields

  • Creative Industries

  • Material Culture Studies

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