Hamburg, 30 March 2020. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has decided to support the new Research Institute for Social Cohesion (FGZ) for an initial period of four years. Within the framework of the FGZ, the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut will research the role of media and communication in creating or endangering social cohesion from 1 June 2020.
The Research Institute for Social Cohesion is a network of eleven university and research institutes located in ten different federal states, thus also taking into account the regional diversity of social cohesion in Germany. Together, the more than 100 scientists and scholars from many different disciplines use empirical studies and large-scale comparisons to develop practice-relevant proposals that help to meet the social challenges of the present day. They will cover aspects such as identities and regional worlds of experience, inequalities and solidarity, media and conflict culture, polarization and populism, but also anti-Semitism and hate crime, and explore these in a European comparison and beyond.
In the one and a half year preliminary phase of the FGZ, during which the founding concept for the institute was developed, an extensive research and transfer programme with more than 70 sub-projects and cross-institutional working areas was developed, which will be implemented from 1 June 2020.
In addition to the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI) in Hamburg, the network also includes the Technische Universität Berlin, the universities of Bielefeld, Bremen, Frankfurt, Halle-Wittenberg, Hanover, Constance and Leibniz as well as the Soziologische Forschungsinstitut Göttingen and the Institute for Democracy and Civil Society Jena.
"We are very much looking forward to cooperating with the other ten institutes throughout Germany and to jointly coordinating this major joint project at the three office locations in Bremen, Frankfurt and Leipzig," says Matthias Middell, Professor at the Global and European Studies Institute and one of the coordinators of the FGZ. Together with the offices in Bremen and Frankfurt, Leipzig takes on a managing role in the institute network. With a view to the current challenges posed by the corona pandemic, he adds, "In the current crisis, many questions of social cohesion are already re-emerging, and it is precisely this dynamism that makes this research network particularly attractive. As an interdisciplinary and regionally distributed institute, we are well equipped to master such challenges."
Projects at the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)
At the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI), several projects within the framework of the FGZ will deal in particular with the question of what role media and communication play in creating or endangering social cohesion. The planned research and transfer activities combine social science and legal perspectives to address three interrelated topics. Firstly, it will be determined how people in different social situations contribute to the creation of public spheres and social cohesion or to fragmentation and polarization through their use of media. Secondly, the significance of journalism for social cohesion will be investigated, with both professional journalistic self-image and citizens' expectations being surveyed. Thirdly, the integration function of public media offerings is analysed. Empirical findings on citizens' expectations of the services provided by public service providers are classified according to media law and condensed into recommendations for media policy.
In addition, the HBI will design and establish a "(Social) Media Observatory" within the framework of the FGZ, which will enable the systematic and continuous observation of journalistic and social media public. The data will be used in the above-mentioned subprojects, but will also be available at other locations. Through workshops and other information services, the SMO also supports the development of methodological competencies in the FGZ.
Research Institute for Social Cohesion
Pia Siemer, Tel: +49 341 973 78 82
Leibniz Institute for Media Research
Christiane Matzen, Tel. +49 40 45 02 17 41, c.matzen @ leibniz-hbi.de