Children’s and Adolescent’s Experiences of the Joint Custody Model – Living with Two Centers of Life

The doctoral project focuses on children’s and adolescents’ perspectives on their eventful daily lives shuttling between two centers of their lives and their attachment to two households. The primary focus of interest is on their experiences in the context of a regular switching between different places and on their attributions of meaning and relevance to the associated family practices, routines, and rules.


The Freedom of Capital

The dissertation project inquires into the structure and the material conditions of the socially dominant liberal understanding of freedom. Drawing on contemporary feminist critiques of capitalist subjectivation (by Wendy Brown, Melinda Cooper, Nancy Fraser, and Silvia Federici, among others), the project examines the connection between the logic of capitalist production and a conception of freedom that implies the appearance of permanent change and of unlimited possibilities for transformation. At the methodological level, the work takes up Hegel’s and Marx’s analyses of bourgeois society, which reveal the genesis and inner logic of the liberal concept of freedom, and draws on them to show that the liberal state cannot conceive of the subjectivity-generating processes in political terms and thereby deprives itself of the possibility of shaping them. Contrary to this concept of freedom, which relies on the model of the freely choosing subject who is not restricted by any external conditions, the dissertation project will deal in the final part with practices of self-education as they were conceived by representatives of proletarian education and the women’s movement (especially Alexandra Kollontai, Nadezhda Krupskaya, and Clara Zetkin). Do changes in the organization of social production and reproduction also lead to changes in the modes of action and desire of the subject? Can we identify a changed concept of the free subject here, understood as one who freely gives him- or herself political determinations? To what extent do the processes of subjectivation taking place here point beyond the disciplining practices of subjectivation in capitalism, rather than merely founding another disciplinary system?

Nature’s Reason

Frankfurt School Critical Theory is a theory of crises with a long history of critical interventions. Yet its voice is barely audible in the context of the climate crisis. Currently, therefore, the dynamics of the crisis of social relations to nature are increasingly being discussed in theoretical languages that exhibit only a meager social-theoretical and ideology-critical profile. The project assumes that conceptual problems of contemporary Critical Theory contribute to its disregard and that the theoretical elucidation of its own sources represents a starting point for its revision. The hitherto unsystematized reception of Schelling’s philosophy in Frankfurt School Critical Theory serves as a starting point for this undertaking.


The Drama in the Political

That the political order of modernity is tragically constitute is a diagnosis that runs like a thread through the history of ideas of political philosophy; but it has hardly ever been contrasted with the other paradigmatic dramatic genre, comedy. Hegel regarded comedy as the highest form of drama. Based on a reading of his theory of poetic genres informed by the theory of democracy, the tragic structure of political liberalism is revealed in order to move the possibility of its comic overcoming following Marx into the spotlight of a democratic poetics of the future.


What Am I Actually Doing Here? Practice, Experiences and Subjective Conceptions of Volunteer Work Using the Example of Volunteering in Welfare State Organizations

Freiwilligenarbeit – häufig auch verhandelt unter Begriffen wie ‚Ehrenamt‘ oder ‚Engagement‘ – ist ein fester Bestandteil arbeitsteilig organisierter, moderner Gesellschaften und wird in diesen vornehmlich affirmativ verhandelt. Diesem affirmativen Blick wird in der Dissertation eine gesellschaftstheoretisch fundierte arbeitssoziologische Perspektive entgegen gestellt, die Arbeit als Mittlerin zwischen Subjekt und Gesellschaft versteht und die handlungsleitenden Orientierung von Freiwilligen in und bei ihrer Arbeit rekonstruiert und zu Typen von Freiwilligenarbeit(er*innen) verdichtet. Mithilfe der vorgeschlagenen kritisch-rekonstruktiven Perspektive und der darauf aufbauenden Typenbildung gelingt es, die gesellschaftstheoretische Relevanz von Freiwilligenarbeit zu erfassen und das Dilemma der Freiwilligen zwischen der Konzeption von Freiwilligenarbeit als Nicht-Arbeit und den Ansprüchen an professionelle Arbeit empirisch fundiert zu beschreiben.


Between the Promise of Freedom and the Dynamics of Alienation

What does it mean that modern societies mediate their economic relations through money? The dissertation project explores this question following Georg Simmel’s theory of money and contemporary social philosophy. The starting point is Simmel’s diagnosis that the institution of money founds a “life form of freedom” specific to capitalist societies. In contrast to Marxist and anarchist critiques, not only the objective moments of domination of the money form will be analyzed, but at the same time its ambivalent dynamics of freedom. On the one hand, monetary relations establish a negative understanding of freedom based on freedom of choice that is central to modern individual culture; on the other hand, such an understanding of freedom also alienates us from forms and institutions of positive freedom that arise through non-commodified relations to the world. The project explores this constellation of domination, freedom, and alienation following Simmel and examines the rationality potential of money.


Dirty Capitalism and Struggles for Social Reproduction in Marseille

My PhD thesis deals with the coloniality of social reproduction. On the one hand, this takes the form of a theoretical examination of analytic concepts such as the coloniality of labor, gender, and the city. On the other hand, I examine how the various dimensions of coloniality information and what forms of emancipatory resistance develop out of this. For this purpose, I am conducting a qualitative ethnographic study of striking cleaners since 2019 and a district union in Marseille.


Aesthetics of Resistance

The concept of resistance plays an important role in critical theories of society. The latter do not adopt a neutral stance on their subject matter, but instead show solidarity with emancipatory social and political resistance. Does this mean that critical theories are themselves in a certain sense resistant? Or to put the question differently: Under what conditions can the thinking of critical theories become resistant? My dissertation argues that thinking requires an aesthetic moment if it is to engage in resistance. I examine what this resistant aesthetic moment involves by contrasting Hegel’s dialectical philosophy, especially his lectures on aesthetics, with Peter Weiss’s aesthetics of resistance.


On the Construction of Enemy Images: Populism and Authoritarianism in Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, and the Frankfurt School

The question of antagonism is a constant in political theory. It has been at the center of major historical events, such as the French Revolution, and it is still at the core of contemporary debates. The much-discussed crisis of (liberal) democracy, for example, is closely related to the question of how to shape antagonistic oppositions.

In my study, I analyze the theories of Laclau, Mouffe, and the first generation of Critical Theory in terms of three dimensions that play a central role in the construction of antagonism: (1) the political, (2) the social, and (3) the psychological or psychoanalytic dimension. From this follows the thesis that a theory which aims to systematically grasp the complexity of antagonism must include all three of these aspects. On this basis, critical research can be conducted on the construction of productive and destructive antagonisms, such as in the context of the contemporary crisis of liberal democracy.