Research Groups

Research Groups aim at a long term interdisciplinary collaboration. They provide the frame in which scholars from various disciplines work together on a broader research theme. For an extended time, generally one year, they work and live at the ZiF.

List of all Research Groups

Research Groups in Preparation


Internalizing Borders: The Social and Normative Consequences of the European Border Regime


European borders are becoming both ubiquitous and openly violent. As border violence reportedly abounds, it becomes evident—in Europe particularly—that the new border policies conflict with liberal norms, international law and humanitarian values which constitute the historical and normative bases of the democratic nation state and the process of European unification itself. Against this backdrop, the proposed research group will explore the normative and social consequences of the fortification and closing of borders for the states and societies engaged in these processes.


Research Group

The Epistemology of Evidence-Based Policy: How Philosophy can Facilitate the Science-Policy Interface

February - June 2023

Evidence-based policymaking aims to improve the quality of policy decisions and actions, while ensuring greater transparency and consistency in decision-making. To this end, policy decisions should be based on verifiable and validated evidence. Measures and programs should also be reliably evaluated. The research group analyzes the opportunities and challenges of this approach from an epistemological perspective.


Research Groups in Postprocessing

Research Group

Economic and Legal Challenges in the Advent of Smart Products

October 2021 - July 2022

The interdisciplinary research group brings together a number of experts in law and economics as well as computer science, sociology and philosophy from different countries. They share a great interest in the challenges that arise from a legal and economic point of view in the digital age with smart products, for example in the area of highly automated vehicles or smart household appliances. One focus is on examining the effect of legal regulation, in particular liability and criminal law regulations, on the development and safety of these products. A second focus is on possible conflicting goals with regard to the connection of products and the protection of privacy and consumer trust. A third central topic of the group is the question of how the legal framework will affect technological change and how this change will in turn affect the future legal framework.


Research Group

Global Contestations of Women's and Gender Rights

October 2020 - July 2021

The research group's fundamental assumption is that human rights and equality principles have never been universal, never inclusive – despite the promise made by the political revolutions before and after 1800. By contrast, gender has been globally reinforced as a category of social inequality. The divide between legally guaranteed equality principles and the empirical continuation of gender inequality is the starting point of the work programme. However, the research object is the global transformation of the notion and semantics of rights into a shared 'language of contestation'. The research group will examine how the presumed normative consensus about equality principles has become disputable recently in various nationalist political contexts using the example of three empirical arenas in which the contestation of equality principles is particularly manifest: (1) the gendered division of labour, (2) religion, and (3) gendered citizenship regimes and sexual rights.


Research Group

Multimodal Rhetoric in Online Media Communications

May - September 2020

The Research Group will investigate how the proliferation of media channels enables political sub-communities to manage and control the creation and dissemination of alternative rhetorical discourses, including advertisements that are personalized according to user profiles and false news stories which have been found to spread faster and more widely than true news stories in platforms such as Twitter. Given that these discourses are increasingly supplanting traditional consensus-based media frameworks, it is essential to understand the mechanisms through which these discourses operate. This includes the prime sites identified as carriers of these discourses and the multimodal strategies (linguistic, visual, filmic) used for target audiences and the resultant effects. In particular, we will establish the mechanisms of such rhetorical formations with respect to their relationship with mainstream news and the deployment of social media for their amplification and transportation.