Ongoing Lead Project

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

Ongoing Third-party Funded Projects

At the intersection of technical and social innovation, the project "Stadtquartier 4.1" seeks to find out, if and how the introduction of novel logistics and mobility services (such as automated parcel pick-up stations and cargo-bike sharing) in a neighbourhood impacts on local dwellers' behaviours and attitudes related to logistics. Secondly, it seeks to understand the communicative and participatory processes which lead to the introduction of said services into a neighbourhood. Thirdly, it investigates, if and how the social acceptance for novel logistics and mobility services systematically varies between urban and sub-urban environments. The IRS sub-project within the consortium provides knowledge, if and under which conditions technical innovations in the field of urban logistics establish in society and contribute to sustainable urban development. more

The Global Center of Spatial Methods for Urban Sustainability (GCSMUS), is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) via the DAAD program “Higher Education Excellence in Development Cooperation – exceed" and based at the Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin). GCSMUS seeks to introduce the use of social science research methodologies for the advancement of urban sustainable development, by connecting social sciences methodology, via knowledge transfer, exchange and implementation, with urban policy-making, planning and design. more

In this project researchers from the IRS department “Dynamics of Communication, Knowledge and Spatial Development” and the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań investigate socio-spatial transformation processes on either side of the German-Polish border, from its opening in 2007 until 2019. The research interest is focused on the question of how debordering, rebordering, and possibly also “interstices” can be systematised. more

Guaranteeing the security of a city's inhabitants is a central task of urban policy, particularly so for structural-spatial planning. Policy and planning thus pursue the goal of improving areas perceived to be unsafe, or indeed to prevent the emergence and stigmatisation of no-go areas in the first place. The joint project “Stadtsicherheit3D”, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, systematises the factors for spatial safety assessments, develops scenarios for intervention, catalogues best practices for policy and planning to date, develops new proposals for best practice on the basis of empirical analyses, and at the same time devises a digital planning tool intended to illuminate the corresponding planning processes using 3D city models. more

“Re-Figuration of Spaces” is the first sociology-led Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) to be funded by the German Research Foundation. It aims to investigate the comprehensive spatial reorganisation of global scale that has been caused by an increase in the global circulation of people and goods, the development and dissemination of digital communications technologies, and the thus entailed growth of worldwide interconnections. Prof. Dr. Gabriela Christmann of the IRS is involved in the CRC as a member of the management board and as spokesperson for Project Area B, “Spaces of Communication”, and leads the sub-project “Digital Urban Planning: Planning Practices and Physical Arrangements”. more

Rural regions – to be understood as areas with a low population density spanning between the local and the state level – are faced with major social and economic problems. In comparison to ‘predominantly urban’ or ‘intermediate’ regions, ‘predominantly rural’ regions, and particularly structurally weak rural regions, are economically less productive, which finds expression by a low level of gross domestic product . They provide a less extensive scope of desired goods and services, opportunities for higher education and qualified job offers. Not least, they are faced with recurring negative discourses on rural problems in public media resulting in negative images. The RURACTION research and training network focuses on these problems in structurally weak rural regions in Europe and on the impact of social entrepreneurship regarding the development of innovative solutions. more

An inseparable part of modern society, innovation is currently acquiring new contours in its relation to society: Societies are becoming innovation societies, in which innovation is one of the main driving forces of change. Innovations in modern society are primarily (re-)produced in innovation fields, i.e. action fields which are constituted by the interactions between actors and which are based on specific, innovation-related topics. In this process, innovation becomes an increasingly reflexive, heterogeneously distributed, and ubiquitous phenomenon. The Graduate School thus addresses the following key question: How does the innovation society constitute its transformations reflexively as innovation? more

Ongoing Qualification Projects

Digital visualizations play an important role in urban planning and architecture practice today. Photorealistic renderings are produced in ever increasing quantities during all kinds and stages of planning processes. Questioning the production and use of photorealistic images can enhance understanding of the different rationalities that are being negotiated in urban development processes. more

Simulation, GIS and CAD software, 3D visualizations, 3D printers and drone technology have become part of the digital infrastructure for planners. They use digital tools and software to analyze, understand and shape the future of cities. The dissertation project investigates how digital arrangements coconstruct the design and planning practicse of urban planners. Martin Schinagl does this by applying methods of qualitative social research and ethnographic workplace research in private and public planning offices. By cross-culturally comparing a number of planning offices in different cities of the world (Lagos, New York, Frankfurt), the project aims to find out how communicative actions and spatial imaginations differ and resemble each other in mediatized working environments. more

In current times, many rural regions in Europe are facing major social and economic problems. With a declining population in rural areas, both the public and private sectors struggle to keep services at the same levels as before. However, due to a decrease in revenue they are often only poorly maintained and as a result can become under-utilised and end up with being withdrawn. Similarly, also local living conditions and quality of life decreases as unemployment rises and skilled labour becomes limited.<br/><br/>These developments are mirrored in the media where structurally weak rural areas face recurring negative discourses. This can further reduce economic opportunities by framing the regions as a less rewarding context for both economic development and for everyday living,... more

The following project starts from the assumption that space is not an inert, background category. Instead, like time, it is performed through specific intra-actions with/in practices (Barad, 2007). This presents a challenge; how to grasp practices intended to change space, such as those in social innovation and territorial transformation which are simultaneously affected by the spaces, or spatialities that they enter? It is in this entangled more-than-human performativity which my research engages. more