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Working Group Future Values


Future values

Working Group on Social Values

The ad hoc working group "Future Values", set up in 2019, is dedicated to key social values that face a wide range of challenges. The consensus of values essential to liberal democracies is coming under pressure due to digitalization and social media, nationalism and populism, global social disparities and migration, as well as the questioning or loss of significance of institutions that create and foster values. At the same time, old and new value conflicts within and between groups and societies are becoming visible. In democratic public life, the defence and discussion of values in various social formations, from the family to the global community, has to be an ongoing process. This is even more essential in exceptional situations such as the global coronavirus pandemic.

Interdisciplinary research on values

Working from a historical-critical, empirical and normative perspective, the ad hoc group deals with various topics, including the following: the validity, acceptance and rejection of values; value conflicts; the communication of values and their future; the historical and cultural embeddedness of values and their transformations; the function of values in guiding and legitimizing actions; the ideological development and the use or questioning of values.

The aim of the working group is to reflect on and initiate research on these issues, and to promote social debate. The interdisciplinary dialogue draws on the methods of different subjects to consider values and value conflicts; this then forms the basis for the provision of scientifically sound information. The idea is to create a forum that brings together a multitude of voices in an open-ended and well-informed debate about research on values and the results and social implications of that research.

Three subgroups study different pairs of values

The research of the ad hoc working group focuses on three pairs of values and the tensions associated with them: freedom and security; community interest and self-interest; and multiculturality and identity. In order to enable an in-depth analysis, three subgroups have been formed, each dealing with one of these pairs of values. The spokespersons of the subgroups are Prof. Dr. Andrea Abele-Brehm (Community Interest and Self-Interest), Prof. Dr. Nicole J. Saam (Freedom and Security) and Prof. Dr. Michael F. Zimmermann (Multiculturality and Identity).

Impulses for politics and public debate

The changing meaning of values as well as the origin, emergence and shifting of tensions between them, and finally the renegotiation of value hierarchies, are a general social phenomenon. These changes are a reaction to scientific and technological progress and new historical challenges, on the part of social formations and cultural agents, the different branches of government (legislature, executive and judiciary), and political parties. Changes in values and the evolution of ethical-political culture are thus an ongoing object of scientific observation and a social task to which science must contribute. The ad hoc working group will make its findings available to the public and politicians in the form of a non-partisan “policy paper”.

With the involvement of young scientists

The ad hoc working group will conduct four empirical research projects involving three young scientists:

  • Dr. Marie-Kristin Döbler (Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg): Freedom versus security in the life course: Dynamics of value conflicts in a time of demographic change
  • Dr. Julian Müller (Ludwig Maximilian University Munich): Value configurations in party platforms
  • Martina Osterrieder (Otto Friedrich University of Bamberg): Value configurations in public discourses; and value discourses in the programmes of political parties
  • Michelle Sturm-Müller (Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt): Multiculturality and identity at the international exhibitions Documenta and Biennale since 1989: Views from the outside and Europe's postcolonial view of itself


As this is a project of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, it is funded by the Bavarian ministry of science and education.