Social human rights and cosmopolitan solidarity

Research project

Globalisation processes are bringing about a far-reaching transformation of modern societies. The movement of capital, goods, people, information, images and ideas are creating global interdependences and giving rise to cross-border pools of experience and interaction. The research focuses on these transformations primarily from a cosmopolitan perspective (U Beck) and follows on from the theory of reflexive modernisation. A particular focus of interest is on processes involved in constructing and working through global social problems, linking global societal norm-building to local experience (embedded cosmopolitanism) and the emergence of new kinds of knowledge and horizons of attention and relevance. This trains the spotlight both on forms of cultural “difference” and on recognition of “equality” at the level of dialogue and institutions, in practical areas within society as well as in day-to-day and social worlds.

It is assumed that the development of a cross-national and (thus for the first time) universal “human rights culture” is a central key to understanding the modern period as it changes under the influence of globalisation. It is set against quasi-corporatist restrictions of human rights and is both the expression and the basis of a kind of “institutionalised cosmopolitanism”, which contributes – or so it is assumed – to the development of new standards in the problematisation of social matters, to shifting solidarities and to changes in how the modern period sees itself.

The “Social human rights and vulnerability” project currently being set up is embedded in that research context at the Centre for Intercultural and European Studies (CINTEUS). It considers the relationship of social human rights, vulnerability and inequality in a globalising world. The research focuses on the social and cultural impact of human rights, related processes in the problematisation of vulnerability and inequality, and (civic as well politico-institutional) problem-solving.

Deprivation experiences as well as experiences of relative advantages and disadvantages and of vulnerability are increasingly being expressed in the language of human rights, which, however, evolves in area between specific circumstances of life and globally different underlying social conditions and cultural mediation. A practically evolving “human rights culture”, which is perceived as a specific context of discourse and action, thus goes beyond simplified oppositions of “universalism” and “particularism” and their unrealistic abstractions. Rather, it is a highly dynamic, structurable and conflict-ridden aspect of the negotiation of social order and the creation of new, cosmopolitan solidarity structures.


Angelika Poferl

Prof. Dr.

Angelika Poferl

Sociology with a specialisation in Globalisation

Building 22, Room 205
Prof. Dr. Angelika Poferl +49 661 9640-
Consultation hours
On special appointment by mail.