The German Research Foundation (DFG) network SONA – the voice of sociology in the sustainability debate
Sustainability is not just an ecological issue, but also a social one. The DFG-funded ‘SONA – The Sociology of Sustainability’ Academic Network brings a sociological perspective to the debate.
Sustainability – where does this term come from? What’s behind it? Which social issues does it encompass? Professor Anna Henkel is convinced that sociology can make a substantial contribution to this topic. The researcher holds the University of Passau’s Chair of Sociology of Technology and Sustainable Development.
In 2017, she initiated the DFG-funded ‘SONA – The Sociology of Sustainability’ Academic Network. It brings together sociologists from a variety of different subfields in order to incorporate a sociological perspective within the debate surrounding sustainability.
‘Sustainability is a social issue. The debate is currently still too focused on ecological and technical aspects, as can be seen in the discussion on reducing CO2 emissions. And yet technical innovations in particular play a great role in social practises. Sustainability also affects issues surrounding social inequality’, says Professor Henkel. She believes that sociology’s great strength is to externally observe social processes, describe them and highlight connections. ‘We want to make the diversity of sociology into fertile ground for the sustainability debate.’
This specifically sociological perspective is defined by the following points:
- A broad definition of sustainability. For example, this includes ecological modernisation, social division and global sustainability objectives. ‘Some of the definitions of sustainability are strongly contradictory. We want to uncover and analyse these’, states Professor Henkel.
- Shaping social change. ‘We assume that the social sphere can be changed.’ What form might these processes take and what role can sociology play here? The network seeks to establish a dialogue with decision-makers in academia, politics, industry and civil society.
- Integrative and educational role within the field. The network creates dialogue between the terms and positions of different disciplines.
At network meetings, members discuss specific topics relating to energy, climate change, mobility and soil. From this emerge the contours of a sociological sustainability concept. The network furthers the discussion within this field with the aid of contributions at conferences and in academic publications.
Participants and funding
The Chair of Sociology of Technology and Sustainable Development at the University of Passau oversees the network. The following researchers are also participating:
- Dr Thomas Barth, LMU Munich – Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
- Professor Cristina Besio, Helmut Schmidt University Hamburg
- Junior Professor Katharina Block, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg
- Professor Stefan Böschen, RWTH Aachen
- Junior Professor Sascha Dickel, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
- Benjamin Goergen, M.A., University of Münster (WWU Münster)
- Professor Matthias Groß, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig
- Junior Professor Jens Koehrsen, University of Basel
- PD Dr Jens Jetzkowitz, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin
- Dr Nico Lüdtke
- Professor Sighard Neckel, University of Hamburg
- Dr Thomas Pfister, Zeppelin University
- Junior Professor Simone Rödder, University of Hamburg
- PD Dr Matthias Schloßberger, Humboldt University Berlin
- Dr Björn Wendt, WWU Münster
The German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding the network for a period of three years. Once funding ceases, the network is to be continued from 2020 onwards as a working group of the Department of Environmental Sociology and other departments of the German Sociological Association.
Current information can be found at www.soziologie-der-nachhaltigkeit.de
|Principal Investigator(s) at the University||Prof. Dr. Anna Henkel (Lehrstuhl für Soziologie mit Schwerpunkt Techniksoziologie und nachhaltige Entwicklung)|
|Project period||01.04.2019 - 28.02.2021|
|Source of funding|
DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft > DFG - Wissenschaftliche Netzwerke