Foto: Andreas Berheide/

The Research Area examines how spaces are constructed and transformed by interactive, innovative, creative, knowledge-based and entrepreneurial activity. It focuses on the complex interaction of civil society, public and private sector actors. The research focus thus pursues the goal of better understanding socio-spatial transformation processes towards a digitalised knowledge and innovation society as well as the interaction between global processes and their local effects, and to identify the related challenges. Research topics include the emergence and spatial diffusion of new ideas, novel forms of gainful and non-gainful employment, digital social innovations and social initiatives, as well as globalisation processes in the knowledge economy. Through interactive knowledge transfer, the Research Area supports cities and regions in shaping socio-economic transformation processes, increasing their adaptability to overarching developments of globalisation and digitalisation, and developing strategies for dealing with new spatial inequalities. The expertise offered by the Research Area addresses decision makers in politics, businesses and civil society, from the local to the supranational level, who deal with topics of economic development, regional development policy, rural development and innovation promotion as well as higher education policy.


Ongoing Lead Project

The lead project of the research focus "Economy and Civil Society" addresses profound transformation processes in knowledge and innovation societies, which in turn are characterised by disruptive events. The lead project "Post-Office" aims to understand the dynamics of change in knowledge-generating cooperation with its disruptive elements and to discuss resulting consequences for urban and rural regions. more


Die Grenze zwischen Litauen und Belarus, 2008. Quelle: jo.sau, Wikimedia Commons
24. November | 2023 | News
Sociologist Vivien Sommer Receives Funding from DFG's Emmy Noether Programme

For a long time, Europe thought it was on the road to unification. Noticeable restrictions on mobility at intra-European borders were seen as a relic of the past. More recently, however, disruptive events such as the coronavirus pandemic and large-scale refugee movements have led to borders becoming more of an issue again. They were already present in the memories of people in border regions. From 2024, a new junior research group at the IRS will be investigating the "border memory" of the local population in four European border regions and exploring how it has been shaped over the course of history. more info

01. September | 2023 | News

The economic geographer Suntje Schmidt was appointed W2 Professor of Applied Economic Geography by the President of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU Berlin) on 29 August 2023. The appointment was made jointly with the IRS, where she has headed the Research Area "Economics and Civil Society" since 2022. more info


Reseach Groups

Foto: Zarya Maxim/

The Research Group is interested in the interactions between creative processes, work and processes of economic and social change. In this context, local manifestations of dynamics such as digitalisation, social transformation processes and increasing multilocality of gainful employment are investigated. more infos

Foto: Comeback Images/stock.adobe. com

The Research Group analyses processes of emergence, establishment and dissemination of novel ideas, practices and projects in rural areas, which are referred to as social innovations. more infos