The Collaborative Research Center 923 investigates threatened social orders. In line with the wider meaning of the German ‘Ordnungen’, orders are conceptualized as arrangements of elements that are related to each other in a certain way and that structure social groups or even whole societies. Orders are threatened when agents become convinced that their options for action are uncertain, when behavior and routines are called into question, when agents feel they cannot rely on each other, and they manage to establish a ‘threat-discourse’.
Researchers in different fields within the social sciences and cultural studies studying the past and the present collaborate in order to develop a model of Threatened Orders, the objective being:
- to historicize current crisis diagnostics,
- to investigate modes of rapid social change,
- to update categories of time and space in the social sciences and cultural studies, and
- to fundamentally reflect on the social sciences and cultural studies in an age of globalization.
These broad goals are achievable because ‘order’ is central to political and social thought in multiple disciplines and epochs. All component projects are designed to allow for the interdisciplinary and cross-historical comparison of case studies. They examine different geographical regions as well as historical periods from antiquity until today. Moreover, adding the attribute ‘threatened’ to the concept of ‘order’ furnishes a valuable lens through which to scrutinize current interdisciplinary debates on issues of order, crisis, modernization, social change and revolution, risk, security/insecurity, vulnerability, resilience, and emotion.
The CRC thus addresses issues that are currently debated both nationally and internationally, and which are increasingly the focus of a number of different research initiatives. The Center’s primary approach is to seek out and identify the basic patterns of social order at the – short – moment of a threat. By connecting threat and order in this way, both the existential aspects of threats as well as the stability and variation of order can be analyzed from a diachronic perspective. The model of Threatened Orders thus opens a path to addressing fundamental questions in the cultural and social sciences in the 21st century.