Signatures of Threat
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Bielefeld University > IKG > Signatures of Threat

Framework and Objectives

The working group focuses on socially induced threats. Attention centers on threats caused by social disintegration, conflict, and violence that endanger personal integrity, social cohesion, and societal order. It seeks the causes, dynamics, consequences, perceptions, and representations of such threats and the ways they are embedded in structures of power and rule. There is currently a complete lack of shared theories and methods that would allow different disciplines to conduct systematically interwoven research into threat.

Based at the University of Bielefeld, the working group will harness the University’s interdisciplinary expertise to create an international scientific landmark. Threat is a complex construct that encompasses individual feelings, perceptions, and experiences as well as the construction, enactment, and (media) communication. We use the term “signatures” to denote this subjective aspect. But there is also an objective side, the manifestations or power-led realizations in the form of real existing disintegration, conflict, and violence. The interdisciplinary frame encompasses a research strand that subjects the cultural semantics of threat to systematic and historical attention. Subjective perception, objective manifestation, and linguistic/cultural representations form the signatures of threat of the proposed research complex. We present a concept that sets up long-term structure-building pure research and combines it with medium-term applied research.

The objective of our working group is to conduct threat research that is (1) internationally comparative, (2) interdisciplinary, and (3) cuts across the different sectors of society, and in the process examines (4) the processual nature of threat complexes and (5) their historical change and development.

The research is structured into three main areas: (1) Individual Existence, (2) Collectives, and (3) Control of Threat, along with the establishment of a center for international comparative threat research.

Represented disciplines: Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Comparative Political Science, Conflict Research, Criminology and Criminal Law, Economic History, Educational Science, Environment and Health, Literature Studies, Public Law, Mathematical Physics, Philosophy, Political Science and Legal History, Social History, Psychology, Public Health Medicine, Quantitative Methods and Empirical Social Research, Social Psychology, Social Work, Socialisation, Sociology of Religion, Theology.