Freedom versus security in the life course: Dynamics of a value conflict in a time of demographic change
In exceptional situations, such as the coronavirus pandemic, human rights are restricted for the benefit, health and safety of “all”. Governments impose partial lockdowns or quarantine on the population. Political and organizational authorities order visitor bans and lockdowns for hospitals, retirement homes and nursing homes for the elderly. But even this very drastic and comprehensive restriction of freedom does not guarantee that residents are safe from infection. On the contrary, life in such a supposedly safe place can prove fatal for some residents of retirement and nursing homes. In some homes (e.g. the St. Nikolaus retirement home in Würzburg), the virus has spread like wildfire, due to the frequency of contact, the density of residents and the difficulty of isolating people from each other, the often already excessive workload of the nursing staff, and low staffing ratios, which may prevent both monitoring of the residents and the adherence to high hygiene standards.
Yet the conflict between freedom and security, which is now particularly evident in the context of the coronavirus (especially in such extreme cases), is actually a much more everyday phenomenon. All our lives, we as human beings experience insecurities and, to varying degrees, depend on help and support, care and protection provided by others – protection from other humans and from hazards in the lifeworld and the environment. Particularly from a life-course perspective, it is possible to discern different relationships of autonomy and care, as well as tensions and conflicts. The project will analyse reflections and deliberations on values as well as freedom-autonomy-security ratios relating to the move into a retirement or nursing home. It will show the constellations of agents and the interrelationships between different agents’ needs and demands for freedom and security. It will reconstruct temporal changes in the relevance of security and freedom and the relationship between them, and it will develop ideas and best-practice models for maximizing freedom and security in cases of institutional accommodation and dependency.
Head: Prof. Dr. Nicole J. Saam
Associate: Dr. Marie-Kristin Döbler
Value configurations in public discourses – with special reference to community interest versus self-interest
Values play a prominent role in today’s public moral debates. We understand values as functional terms that serve as standards for comparing moral judgements and actions. They are subject to the same process of change as the society that shapes the discourse about them. Their sphere of influence is always defined by how the conflicts of values are shaped and how individuals and groups prioritize these values.
Our research project studies how different values are manifested and configured in public discourses and what functions they serve. The aim is to gain insights into which values are dominant and what this means for the society. We base our research on Shalom H. Schwartz’s theory of basic values, reflecting on its methodology and extending it into a discourse-analytic approach.
As examples, we analyse the curricula for Bavarian state schools (both primary and higher levels), and the platforms of the parties currently present in the German Bundestag. In both projects, our special interest concerns the distinctions drawn between self-transcendence oriented values (“We”) and self-enhancement oriented values (“I”).
Head: Prof. Dr. Annette Scheunpflug, Prof. Dr. Andrea Abele-Brehm
Associate: Martina Osterrieder
The project investigates the role of values in political communication. What values do political parties refer to? The study will focus on the manifestos of German parties after World War II. These offer a concrete and clearly defined object of analysis; they formulate a party’s course for a long period of time while taking into account and reflecting different positions within the party. Values play a decisive role because they are characterized not only by abstractness and semantic vagueness but also by the fact that they cannot be negated. It is precisely the genuine indeterminacy of values that enables a “suggestion of commonality” (cf. Niklas Luhmann: Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft, Frankfurt a.M. 1997: 343).
In addition to examining the content of party manifestos, the project scrutinizes how values function in political communication. We first analyse which social values are repeatedly emphasized by parties and then describe the communicative and discourse-strategic effects of the communication of these values.
Head: Dr. Astrid Séville, Prof. Dr. Annette Scheunpflug, Prof. Dr. Andrea Abele-Brehm
Associate: Dr. Julian Müller
Multiculturality and identity at the international exhibitions Documenta and Biennale since 1989: Views from outside and Europe’s postcolonial gaze at itself.
The project is currently in planning.
At least since the 1980s, the system of visual arts has been globalized. In recent years, this process has irreversibly turned against the values of a merely “Atlantic” modernism and postmodernism. Institutions of the art scene have been established and large international exhibitions have been held in cities like Shanghai, Istanbul, Johannesburg and Rio de Janeiro. These have given a forum not only to local artists but also to artists from disfavoured places like the “global south”. The changes in the international exhibition industry have also reached established European exhibitions like the Biennale, held in Venice since 1895, or the Documenta, held in Kassel since 1956.
Global challenges have become a central theme of many artworks exhibited in Europe, which have inspired lively debate. The emphasis has mainly been on issues such as social inequality, modern forms of exploitation including slavery, migration (on other continents as well as Europe) and the self-isolation of the countries that were the goal of migrants. Equally relevant issues have been climate change, the extinction of species, the externalization of environmental damage and the land devastation caused by mass production for the global agricultural trade. However, the new art is not only concerned with new content in old and new media, but also with the forms of media communication. One question that has arisen is how people in wealthy countries can give their fellow humans a voice beyond the global power gap – without reducing them to figures in a worldwide social typology based on media stereotypes. Not only content but also forms of media have been addressed from an ethical-political point of view. On the one hand, artists draw aesthetic benefit from apocalyptically exaggerated scenarios of disaster. These attract a high level of media attention and achieve successes – even on the art markets of the new super-rich. On the other hand, artists and curators strive to create utopian models of dialogical encounters with people who only very rarely find their place in public consciousness. Artists develop new forms of documentary in various media. Again and again, they raise the question of how the “Other” can appear and present herself or himself in “our” imagination. Broadly appealing aesthetics depicting the pathos of world history and apocalypse are increasingly contrasted with "participatory" or "cooperation art".
In both forms of new art, Europe is systematically confronted with the tasks arising from its colonial past and its industrial development. The objectives of global emancipatory art are not limited to the acceptance of multiculturality. In terms of identity, social formations are encouraged to renegotiate the balance between self-transcendence and self-assurance. Instead of defining European identity exclusively as a historical accomplishment, and attempting to preserve the status quo, new models of identity are proposed: they imply the capacity to accept new responsibilities, including those resulting from the ongoing effects of colonialism, and to mobilize historic potentials to face them.
Head: Prof. Dr. Michael F. Zimmermann
Associate: Michelle Sturm-Müller, MA