Welcome to the Institute for Communication Studies


The following scheme structures the institute’s recently updated research agenda:

  • Interpersonal communication in all its phenomenal manifestations and also regarding its interaction with new types of media

  • Communication in institutions and organizations under the influence of cultural and social heterogeneity

  • Communication in urban contexts, and

  • Methods and methodology of empirical communication research, particularly the analysis of multimodal interaction.

Institute for Communication Studies

The traditional division of labor in the field of communication studies divides the discipline into two separate sections. One section places its focus upon phenomena of public communication and mass media, whereas the other section is primarily concerned with face-to-face communication. Rapid changes in societal communication practices and technological developments, however, increasingly render it difficult to clearly distinguish between these types of communication. As a result, the separation of the field has been progressively becoming obsolete. Correspondingly, processes of communication have been becoming more and more subject to conditions of cultural diversity and, relatedly, heterogeneous expectations regarding routines and patterns of interpretation. This is particularly obvious in multicultural urban centres as well as in political, cultural, and economic cooperation on an international or transnational level. Currently, the institute is intensifying its interest in these theoretically as well as socially highly relevant issues.

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We at the Institute for Communication Studies regards communication as a specific and complex form of social practice. From this viewpoint, it does not suffice for the description and explanation of its properties and functional characteristics to separately address the involved cognitive competences, societal conditions, and the means of communication. Empirical evidence shows that individuals are not able to entirely control the effects of their communication efforts. As a consequence, the co-construction of meaning and coordinated sense making turn out to be not only extraordinarily interesting subjects of investigation but also parameters basically ubiquitously important for the practical success of interaction and cooperation in general. Communication studies necessarily entertain a close relationship with disciplines such as sociology, psychology, anthropology, linguistics, and media studies, integrating the insights of which into a distinctive research framework specifically designed for investigating phenomena of communication.

The communication process is complex and multimodal, employs specific means and often occurs in technologically mediated environments. In contexts of the manifold types of interpersonal communication, the communication process manifests itself as a practical procedure, enacting everyday life and cultural as well as institutional and organizational reality. A variety of societal practices with their distinctive procedural patterns modifies communication processes. In modern societies, this is particularly apparent in institutionalized expectations concerning the type and course of communication processes, in formal participation requirements, and in different communicative roles in professional fields such as administration, health care, teaching, academic education, entrepreneurship, and politics.

Head of Institute

Professor Dr. Karola Pitsch

Custodian/Academic Coordination

Dr. Karin Kolb


Ina Schläfke


Phone: +49.201.183 2807