Success for the cluster initiative "ConTrust: Trust in Conflict. Political Coexistence under Conditions of Uncertainty"

Prof. Nicole Deitelhoff and Prof. Rainer Forst are delighted to share news of ConTrust’s success in the funding line of the Hessian Ministry of Science and the Arts “Cluster Projects in Preparation for the Next Round of the Excellence Strategy:” “We can hardly wait to start working on this innovative project. We thank the State of Hesse and our university for the trust they have placed in us. The scientists and the Normative Orders team who led this collaborative effort to this first success have shown the courage to break new ground in research.” ConTrust will be funded with almost 10 million euros over the next five years. The state of Hesse will contribute half of the funds, and the other half will be provided by Goethe University, the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF), and by ConTrust’s participating researchers, who will draw on their own research funds to finance a quarter of the budget. The project will be located at Goethe University as part of the Research Centre Normative Orders, and will aim to create synergies with other networks based here, such as the Research Institute for Social Cohesion.

What ConTrust is about, in brief: Conflicts are inevitable in social contexts, and yet they do not make living together impossible. But where do we get the certainty that disputes will not escalate, that respective counterparts will abide by rules, that institutions will safeguard us against transgressions, and that the social world as a whole will remain so stable that we can meaningfully orient our actions in it? The first answer is trust. Trust generates an “unsecured security,” one that can never be fully redeemed and yet one that constitutes the secret of social coexistence. Where does this trust come from?

As the name “ConTrust” suggests, this project continues in good Frankfurt tradition by swimming against the tide. Trust is generally located where conflict is absent, that is, in an imagined community space. This interdisciplinary project, in contrast, locates trust in conflict. For how else are modern societies and political or economic systems of cooperation to function characterized as they are by conflict, even profound conflict? In tried and tested cooperation but along new methodological paths, the ConTrust project inquires into the conditions --individual, collective and structural-- that enable the stabilization and formation of trust where there is no agreement.

ConTrust thus stands in stark contrast to prevailing tendencies in research. First, it does not conceive of trust as an opposite concept to that of conflict, but assumes that trust only emerges, forms and proves itself in and through conflict. Second, the Frankfurt Research Network seeks to methodically transcend the conventional disciplinary boundaries as well as the gap between empirical and normative analyses that tend to constrain the study of trust and conflict. Third, the research places the “question of trust” in a framework that asks about new qualities of uncertainty (and insecurity) that became increasingly visible in, but are not limited to, the Corona pandemic. This includes reflection on the changing media in which conflict is represented and trust and mistrust are communicated. Fourth, it will be made clear that, in contrast to most alternative approaches, the concept of trust is not to be evaluated in a consistently positive way, as there can also be authoritarian forms of trust that are freedom-denying and destructive. Finally, the project aims to draw practical conclusions regarding the possibilities of framing conflicts in such a manner that trust can be formed and stabilized in a productive way. In this sense, dialogue with society is an integral part of our research.

Part of ConTrust's self-image is the understanding that research in the social sciences and humanities must see itself as part of the society that is its subject. Therefore, the project seeks methodologically sound ways to combine social analysis, social criticism and normative orientation. Frankfurt is the place where research of this kind has had a home and where it continues to thrive.
These assumptions and intentions structure the collaborative, interdisciplinary research on trust dynamics in five key conflict contexts, ranging from democratic structures, institutions of coercion, markets and economics to knowledge discourses and the media. From this, over the next few years, the researchers intend to develop a diagnostic of the dynamics of trust and mistrust in typical conflict constellations, and to draw on this framework to assemble a successful Cluster of Excellence application in 2025.

Central measures to achieve this are the targeted recruitment and promotion of outstanding junior and mid-career level researchers to complement the existing expertise. Furthermore, the appointment of several professorships at the location is planned in order to increase the visibility of Frankfurt as an international center for trust and conflict research.

The main researchers involved are (plus associate members):

Goethe University Frankfurt, Faculty 01 - Law
- Professor Dr. Armin von Bogdandy, Public Law, Philosophy of Law, International Law (also MPI HD)
- Professor Dr. Beatrice Brunhöber, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure Law, Philosophy of Law and Comparative Law
- Professor Dr. Christoph Burchard, LL.M. (NYU), criminal law and criminal procedure law
- Professor Dr. Alexander Peukert, Civil and Commercial Law with a focus on international intellectual property law
- Professor Dr. Ayelet Shachar, Public Law, Philosophy of Law, Citizenship and Migration Law (also MPI GÖ)
- Professor Dr. Indra Spiecker genannt Döhmann, LL.M. (Georgetown), Public Law, esp. Administrative Law, Environmental Law, Information Law, Legal Theory

Goethe University Frankfurt, Department 02 - Economic Sciences
- Professor Guido Friebel, Ph.D., Management and Microeconomics
- Professor Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, Ph.D., Macroeconomics and Development

Goethe University Frankfurt, Department 03 - Social Sciences
- PD Dr. Thomas Biebricher
- Professor Dr. Nicole Deitelhoff, International Relations and Theories of Global Orders (also PRIF, see below) - Co-Speaker
- Professor Dr. Christopher Daase, International Organizations (also PRIF, see below)
- Professor Dr. Rainer Forst, Political Theory and Philosophy - Co-Speaker
- Professor Dr. Daniela Grunow, Sociology with a focus on quantitative analyses of social change
- Professor Dr. Vera King, Sociology and Psychoanalytic Social Psychology
- Professor (W1) Dr. Hanna Pfeifer, research on radicalization and violence (also PRIF, see below)
- Dr. Tobias Wille

Goethe University Frankfurt, Department 08 - Philosophy and Historical Sciences
- Professor Dr. Martin Saar, Social Philosophy

Goethe University Frankfurt, Department 10 - Modern Philologies
- Professor Dr. Vinzenz Hediger, Film Studies
- Dr. Pavan Malreddy
- Professor Dr. Johannes Völz, American Studies, Democracy and Aesthetics

Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF)
- Professor Dr. Christopher Daase (also FB 3, see above)
- Professor Dr. Nicole Deitelhoff (also FB 3, see above)
- Professor (W1) Dr. Hanna Pfeifer (also FB3, see above)
- Dr. Irene Weipert-Fenner

TU Darmstadt, Faculty 2 - Social and Historical Sciences
- Dr. Greta Wagner (also NO Frankfurt)

University of Mannheim, Faculty of Social Sciences
- Professor Dr. Richard Traunmüller, Empirical Democracy Research (also FGZ Frankfurt).

Participating institutions:

- Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
- Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF)

Partner institutions
- Research Institute for Social Cohesion
- Sigmund Freud Institute, Frankfurt am Main
- Institute for Social Research, Frankfurt am Main
- Darmstadt University of Technology
- Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg
- Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen
- Max Planck Institute for European Legal History, Frankfurt am Main
- Berlin Science Center for Social Research
- Hessian Competence Center for Responsible Digitalization Darmstadt
- University of Mannheim

International (selection):
- King's College London, International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation
- University of Toronto, Law School & Department of Political Science & Centre for Ethics
- Columbia University, New York, Department of Political Science & Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies & Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought
- Jawaharlal Nehru University and Center for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi
- American University in Cairo
- German-Colombian Peace Institute CAPAZ



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27. Januar 2022, 16.30 Uhr

Kontrovers: Aus dem FGZ: Neue Konfliktlinien: Polarisiert sich Deutschland? Mit: Prof. Dr. Daniela Grunow (FGZ Frankfurt, Goethe-Universität) und Prof. Dr. Andreas Zick (FGZ Bielefeld, Universität Bielefeld). Moderation: Heike List (FGZ, Goethe-Universität). Mehr...

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