New Research Units Deal With Norms And The Age Of Enlightenment

June 03, 1998

At its spring meeting, the Grants Committee of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) decided to fund six new research units. In these units several researchers - usually based at the same university - cooperate to solve a shared scientific problem. Research units are set up when a small, but highly significant scientific theme requires interdisciplinary cooperation. The programme is designed to help establish new lines of research work which as yet have not, or only insufficiently, been pursued in Germany.

What is the role played in our society by norms, what is considered normal? This is the question nine scientists at Dortmund University are asking themselves who have joined forces in the research unit Life in trend curves. Flexible normalism in working and everyday life, the media, elementary literature and fiction. They intend to point out differences between valid norms and what is considered "normal". The object of the planned investigations will be human behavioural patterns which are described in literary texts and films and looked into in reality by sociologists.

In Halle-Wittenberg, the research unit on Self-Enlightenment of Enlightenment. Concepts for the individual, society and humanity at the anthropological turning point in the late Age of Enlightenment will look into the late phase of the Age of Enlightenment. By drawing on historical sources, historians, philosophers, political scientists as well as scholars of Romance and Germanic languages and literatures will study the fundamental change that occurred around 1750 in the concepts for society and humanity.

The six new research units will now begin their activities. The DFG will fund their work by providing a total of about DM 7.3 million for an initial period of two years. Another DM 3.1 million were tentatively budgeted for the third year. As a rule, the total term of such programmes is six years.

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

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