Research Projects

Dr. Jan-Hendryk de Boer Enabling the Avignonese Papacy. Implicit Legitimisation of a Contested Institution (1309–1377)

The project examines the papacy in the 14th century as a contested institution. Observing the Avignon papacy, contemporaries began to ponder whether papal rule could and should not look very different. In doing so, they placed it in a horizon of possibilities defined by the factual actions of the popes, cardinals and members of the curia, as well as existing alternatives for action. Therefore, the practices of papal rule could be observed as contingent. As a result, the papacy saw itself challenged, not as an institution, but in its actions. Presenting itself as an institution that made consensus possible and that enabled compromises to be made was a strategy for reacting to this challenge and legitimising papal rule.

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Julia Mariko Jacoby, M.A. Compromise and Commons: Regulating Resource Conflicts in Early Modern Japan

The project analyses the use of compromise in legal settlements (naisai) for mitigating resource conflicts in Japan during the Edo period (1603–1868). By comparing resource conflicts from the three areas that were governed as commons (mountains, rivers and channels, lakes and coastal waters), the entanglements between resources, social structures and legal practices are revealed.

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Dr. Karsten Mause Compromise in Game Theory

In economic game theory, which goes back to John von Neumann (1903-1957), Oskar Morgenstern (1902-1977) and John F. Nash (1928-2015), among others, “cooperation” and “defection” are the dominant terms and decisive categories. Under what conditions do private actors cooperate in or defect from the provision of public goods? How can those involved in the use of common-pool resources cooperate in such a way that the shared resource is not overexploited or even destroyed? While economic game theory, for the sake of simplicity, often models social conflict situations as a game with only two alternative courses of action (i.e. cooperation or defection), in real (economic) life it can be observed that the “players” often make compromises. In game theory literature, the term “compromise” is not or only very rarely explicitly mentioned. This research project therefore investigates in more detail in which “games” and negotiation/conflict situations, which are dealt with in the economics literature, compromises play a role.

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Dr. Manon Westphal Democracy after the Populist Moment

This research project explores what sorts of institutional reforms and innovations could help democracies overcome the democratic deficits that characterise the current populist moment. These deficits include, in particular, the unequal responsiveness of political decisions, the widespread feeling of being left behind and tendencies towards (affective) polarisation, which complicate practices of compromise. The hypothesis of the project is that what is needed are novel forms of institutional reforms and innovations that take seriously the social, cultural and economic causes of conflicts, and do not just complement the existing institutional settings but reconfigure them. Possible contours of such novel institutional reforms and innovations are drawn from a bottom-up perspective, which exploits the creative potential of real world practices to develop perspectives for institutional change.

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Dr. Stefan Zeppenfeld Afterwork, Leisure and Everyday Life in the 20th Century

This research project explores the question of how people spent their leisure time in the 20th century. While labour history is a long-established research topic, historical aspects of leisure time have been largely neglected. The project addresses this research gap and examines historical developments on the basis of activities such as gardening, clubs and societies, or private collecting passions. The specific focus is on individual motivations, accessibility as well as the specific prerequisites for the chosen activities.

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Student Papers

Andrew Wittenbrink, B.A. Compromise in the Works of Thomas Babington Macaulay. Narratives of Conflict Regulation in British Historiography in the First Half of the 19th Century

BA Thesis was supervised by Prof. Dr. Ute Schneider / Prof. Dr. Jens Gurr

When considering compromise today, it is often indispensable to look at the history of the theoretical examination of this concept. A contribution to the historical exploration of the concept of compromise is made with the thesis "Compromise in the Works of Thomas Babington Macaulay. Narratives of Conflict Regulation in British Historiography in the First Half of the 19th Century".

In historical research on compromise, the work "On Compromise" (1877) by the British politician John Morley has so far been regarded as the first theoretical examination of the concept of compromise. Statements by the British politician and historian Thomas Macaulay (1800-1859) are occasionally cited as marginal notes without further consideration. The thesis examines Macaulay's hitherto neglected understanding of compromise, paying particular attention to the narration of compromise as a means of regulating conflicts.