Research Programme

With a thematic focus on the formation of normative orders, the programme explores current conflicts over a just world order and their historical genesis from the perspective of different disciplines in the humanities and social sciences (philosophy, history, political science, legal studies, ethnology, economics, religious studies and sociology). In contrast to functionalist explanatory approaches which always appeal to factors external to norms and have their own scientific justification, the Cluster is concerned with the internal conflicts, processes and procedures involved in the formation of normative orders. Normative orders serve to justify claims to validity and the claims to political authority, and to a particular distribution of goods and life chances, based upon them. They are embedded in justification narratives which emerge within unique historical constellations in response to a specific pressure of problems. For the most part they are handed down, modified, institutionalized and put into practice over long periods of time. At the same time, however, every traditional justification narrative points beyond the facticity of an extant order and thus presents opportunities for criticism, rejection or resistance. It is this performative tension between narratives and claims to justification which renders the conflictual dynamic of the formation and transformation of normative orders intelligible.

The researchers participating in the Cluster of Excellence find their common ground in this internal standpoint. They use it to investigate the formation of normative orders, employing the resources of their own disciplines, while engaging in reflexive communication concerning this shared foundation. Without absolutizing the distinction between internal and external perspectives on the formation of normative orders, one can nevertheless observe in current conflicts how people give immediate expression to their experiences of injustice – with all of the attendant ambivalences, especially when these expressions are quickly broadcast across the globe by the mass media in a way that was previously unknown. Individual and collective experiences of injustice, of contempt, humiliation and lack of respect for one’s dignity, are heightened into normative claims aimed at different audiences with different reasons, if necessary also with violence. Thus we can at present only conjecture what conflicts over just normative orders will be triggered by the predicted change in the global climate, what distribution conflicts over increasingly scarce essential resources in the more seriously affected regions and what social and cultural struggles will be triggered once the predicted mass migrations to the more favourable climatic zones begin.

Those affected pay no attention to functional differentiations within global social systems or to semantic and institutional differences between law, morality and religion. While people are acting and speaking, they are certainly also anonymous points of intersection of systems of social communication and of unconscious symbolic systems – mere tokens in a strategic game over markets for raw materials and consumer goods or the mouthpieces of particular group interests who are instrumentalized by the mass media. Our aim is not to lull the humanities and the social sciences back into an anthropological slumber and to orient them to an image of human beings that denies their contextual character and tries to pass itself off as a transcendental a priori. However, we regard factual expressions of outrage over injustices – regardless of how justified, one-sided, selective or distorted they may be in particular cases – as sufficient to raise the question of how a theory of the formation of normative orders that goes beyond the dichotomy between action theory and structural or systems theory is possible today, a theory which, given the global challenges, avoids the quietism of structural theory as much as the alarmism of a theory of action.


„Normative Ordnungen“, herausgegeben von Rainer Forst und Klaus Günther, erscheint am 17. April 2021 im Suhrkamp Verlag

Am 17. April 2021 erscheint der Sammelband „Normative Ordnungen“ im Suhrkamp Verlag. Herausgegeben von den Clustersprechern Prof. Rainer Forst und Prof. Klaus Günther, bietet das Werk einen weit gefassten interdispziplinären Überblick über die Ergebnisse eines erfolgreichen wissenschaftlichen Projekts. Mehr...

Das Postdoc-Programm des Forschungsverbunds „Normative Ordnungen“: Nachwuchsförderung zwischen 2017 und 2020

Die Förderung des wissenschaftlichen Nachwuchses ist seit je her ein integraler Bestandteil des Forschungsverbunds „Normative Ordnungen“. Das 2017 neu strukturierte, verbundseigene Postdoc-Programm bietet die besten Bedingungen zu forschen und hochqualifizierte junge Wissenschaftler*innen zu fördern. Zum Erfahrungsbericht: Hier...

„Symposium on Jürgen Habermas’ Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie“ herausgegeben von Rainer Forst erschienen

Als jüngste Ausgabe der Zeitschrift "Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory" ist kürzlich das „Symposium on Jürgen Habermas, Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie“ herausgegeben von Prof. Rainer Forst erschienen. Mehr...

Upcoming Events

17. Juni 2021, 16 Uhr

ConTrust Speaker Series: Prof. Dr. Martin Hartmann (Professor für Philosophie, mit Schwerpunkt Praktische Philosophie der Universität Luzern): Vertrauen und Konflikt. Anmerkungen zu einer komplexen Konstellation. Mehr...

23. Juni 2021, 13 Uhr

Crisis Talk: Lehren aus der Pandemie - Das europäische und das globale Krisenmanagement der EU. Mehr...

23. Juni 2021, 18.00 Uhr

Digital Lecture Series "Algorithms - Between Trust and Control": Virtual Roundtable: The Freedom to Deviate in the Algorithmic Society?. More...


Latest Media


Weitere Videoaufzeichnungen finden Sie hier...

Solidarität_Welche Rolle spielen Emotionen, Regeln, Infrastrukturen?

Prof. Dr. Sighard Neckel (Universität Hamburg und Assoziiertes Mitglied des Forschungsverbunds „Normative Ordnungen“)
Moderation: Rebecca Caroline Schmidt (Geschäftsführerin des Forschungsverbundes "Normative Ordnungen")
DenkArt "Solidarität_Aber wie?"

Das vermessene Leben

Prof. Dr. Vera King (Professorin für Soziologie und psychoanalytische Sozialpsychologie an der Goethe-Universität und geschäftsführende Direktorin des Sigmund-Freud-Instituts Frankfurt, PI von ConTrust)
Ringvorlesung "Algorithms - Between Trust and Control"

New full-text Publications

Rainer Forst (2021):

Solidarity: concept, conceptions, and contexts. Normative Orders Working Paper 02/2021. More...

Annette Imhausen (2021):

Sciences and normative orders: perspectives from the earliest sciences. Normative Orders Working Paper 01/2021. More...