Sven Altenburger

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter

Biographical Details
Sven Altenburger is Research Associate at the University of Göttingen. His PhD Project, jointly supervised by Prof Tine Stein (Göttingen) and Prof Dario Castiglione (Exeter), is funded by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. He holds an MA in History of Political Thought from Queen Mary and UCL, and a BA in Politics and History from Kiel University. Prior to pursuing his PhD, Sven was a Project Manager at the German think tank Das Progressive Zentrum. He has held visiting positions at the University of Chicago, the University of Exeter, and the University of Copenhagen.

Research Interests

  • Theories of Citizenship and Republicanism
  • 19th and 20th Century German and American Political Thought
  • Methods in Political Theory and the History of Political Thought

PhD Project: The Constitutional Duties of Citizens
My dissertation is based upon the assumption that the three constitutional core duties of modern citizenship – taxation, schooling, and military service – are of crucial importance for modern democracies, but that they have not received the historical and theoretical attention they deserve. Thus, the main bulk of my project is dedicated to reconstructing and reconsidering the institutional and ideational shapes of these three duties in America and democratic Germany, primarily during the 20th century and with a particular emphasis on modern republican conceptions of citizenship. I pursue this by reviewing legal regulations, constitutional jurisdiction, commission reports, public political debates, theoretical tracts, and pertinent secondary literature, in particular historical and sociological works. Building on this historical-sociological reconstruction, I then make a more general case for the role and value of duties in citizenship and democracy that draws on the principles underlying the institutions, in particular those of modern republican fashion.

Selected Papers

  • 'Schooling as Citizen-Making in 20th Century America and Germany', History of Political Ideas Early Career Seminar, Institute of Historical Research, London, 27/11/2019.
  • 'Rethinking American and German Conscription', Fifth Political Theory Graduate Conference, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), 15/3/2019.
  • 'The Civic Duty of Military Service', Political Theory Reading Group, University of Exeter, 7/11/2018.
  • 'The Legal Duties of Citizens' (in German), Tenth Postgraduate Workshop in Democracy Studies, Leuphana University Lüneburg, 5/5/2017.
  • 'Habermas’ Public Sphere: Historical or Theoretical Concept?', Public and Private in the History of Political Thought. Sixth Annual London Graduate Conference in the History of Political Thought, University of London, 6/6/2015.
  • 'Karl Löwenstein’s Militant Democracy in Relation to Weber and Schmitt', Protecting Liberal Democracy: Normative and Empirical Perspectives, Princeton University/Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 29/7/2014.


  • 20th Century American Political Thought (BA Course, University of Göttingen, Autumn Term 2019)
  • Introduction to the History of Political Thought (Introductory BA Course, University of Göttingen, Spring Term 2018)
  • Citizenship Theory (MA Course, Kiel University, Autumn Term 2017)
  • Republicanism: Historical and Contemporary Theories (Advanced BA Course, Kiel University, Autumn Term 2016 and Spring Term 2017)