Nicole Zerrer

Nicole Zerrer has been working as a research associate in the department “Dynamics of Communication, Knowledge and Spatial Development” since June 2019. As a PhD student the communication and political scientist is doing research in the lead project “Smart Villagers. Digitalisation and Social Innovation in Rural Areas.”

Nicole Zerrer studied communication science at the University of Muenster and the Hawai´i Pacific University. Continued by postgraduate studies of media and political communication at the Freie Universität Berlin, the University of Stockholm and the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship. Her main focus was on mediatization research, media and political change, sociological system theory and design thinking. For her thesis she conducted empirical research about risk perception and risk communication of innovations.

During her study period she also obtained professional experience in projects on the “Digital Society” and the “City of the Future” at Science in Dialogue gGmbH. She also worked in journalism, strategic communication and sustainability management.

Research Interest and Expertise

Research Foci
Innovation Research
Village and Community Development
Rural Areas and Rural Communities
Science on Communication and Media
Sociology of Communication
Political Science
Foci in Methods and Concepts
Semi-Structured Interviews
Content Analysis
Standardized Surveys


Ongoing Lead Projects

Smart cities are often talked about – but smart villages? Rural areas, particularly in structurally weak regions, are often affected by out-migration and a growing backlog in digital infrastructure and innovation dynamics. Both trends reinforce each other. However, there are examples of villages in which innovative initiatives do not just strive to compensate for deficits, but develop new, situation- and problem-specific local solutions. In doing so, they combine new services with creative uses of digital technologies and sometimes improved digital infrastructures. In this lead project, such initiatives, driven by ‘smart villagers’, are analysed from the perspective of ‘societal innovations’, yet with an emphasis on the aspects of mediatization and digitalization. more info

Ongoing Qualification Projects

Digitalisation as a societal megatrend also changes life in rural areas. Village inhabitants push initiatives to address common problems of rural living with digital technology. The aim of this research project is to better understand rural digitalisation processes and their effects on village communities as well as the (further) development of a theoretical framework to this research object. more info

Selected Publications by Year

Zerrer, N., & Sept, A. (2020). Smart Villagers as Actors of Digital Social Innovation in Rural Areas. Urban Planning, 5(4), 78-88. DOI: 10.17645/up.v5i4.3183

Selected Publications by Type

Journal Article
Zerrer, N., & Sept, A. (2020). Smart Villagers as Actors of Digital Social Innovation in Rural Areas. Urban Planning, 5(4), 78-88. DOI: 10.17645/up.v5i4.3183


THE MEDIATIZED VILLAGE Digital Social Innovation and Smart Villagers in Rural Areas

Kolloquium Prof. Jeffrey Wimmer

Universität Augsburg, Augsburg, Germany

Smart Villagers Drivers of Digital Social Innovations in Rural Areas

IAMCR 2020 online conference

Tampere/Online, Tampere, Finland


  • Leibniz-Gemeinschaft (External organisation)

  • Bertelsmann Stiftung (External organisation)