Center for Theory of Culture and Society

Center for Theory of Culture and Society


The Center for Theory of Culture and Society (Zentrum für Theorie und Methoden der Kulturwissenschaften) is a network-like consortium of over 70 members of the University of Göttingen. The Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Social Sciences function as supporting organizations. Nevertheless, the center is also open to members from all other faculties.


The center has two main functions: (1) to develop cross-discipline and cross-faculty third-party funds projects with a focus on the reflection and creation of theory as well as the explicit development of methods in the involved disciplines and (2) to support individual and joint research projects focusing on cultural studies with the establishment of questions based on theory or methodology especially during the application stage.


The necessity to establish a Center for the reflection of theories and methods is the result of the Cultural Turns, which strongly changed the humanities and social sciences since the late 1980s. Thereby, culture serves as an “umbrella term” for a modification of research and argumentation methods. With the Cultural Turns, a corpus of reference texts, problem areas and modes of thinking and argumentation were developed in the humanities and social sciences which are based on an explicit reflection of theories. Thus, theory incorporates elements of epistemology and the theory of science as well as the formation of patterns of interpretation and narration which transcend individual research cases. This results in a common language, in which the different disciplines of the humanities and social sciences can interact with each other despite the disparity of their research topics, fields and eras.


The goal of the ZTMK is to provide a theoretical basis for empirical (joint) research, to advance the meta-theoretical reflection in disciplines which do not belong to the natural sciences and to make empirical research compatible from a transdisciplinary perspective while shaping a scientifically more reflected point of view. This means the ZTMK focusses especially on the cooperation with other institutions at the University of Göttingen to facilitate the development of comprehensive theoretical research. Notably, the center works together with the Global and Transregional Studies Group Göttingen to create innovative theories for research fields and questions arising from globalization processes.


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