Research at the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS) is focused on the spatial aspects and contexts of social action. In doing so, spatial phenomena are explored in terms of both processual and historical dimensions using social-scientific methods. The research focuses on the preconditions, interactions, and consequences of spatial development, and how involved actors contribute to these developments by sharing insights and cooperating on processes of innovation. For instance, the IRS examines how the exchange of knowledge between academics and spatial planners facilitates the emergence of new approaches to spatial planning.
The IRS conducts both basic and applied research and promotes the transfer of scientific insights to practitioners throughout society. Research on society and space at the IRS builds on interdisciplinary expertise from the fields of economic and social geography, political science, sociology, planning science, historical studies as well as the history of arts and architecture.
IRS scholars integrate these different academic traditions by utilising them in their research on space. With its research, the IRS makes a significant contribution to understanding the challenges and opportunities associated with space. It also sheds light on the ability of different spaces to transform and adapt to different regional, national and international contexts. Examples include innovations as drivers of knowledge-based economies, changes to infrastructural networks and new types of housing, as well as novel ways of living in and engaging with cities. It also encompasses changed patterns and dimensions of global migration.
The research department Dynamics of Communication, Knowledge and Spatial Development focuses on communicative action and knowledge processes in spatial transformations. It examines how communicative action facilitates the emergence and dissemination of new spatial knowledge, social processes and material configurations of space. The current fields of work in the department include: spatial transformations by innovative processes in structurally weak areas; by digitalisation processes in the context of urban planning and design as well as by processes of climate change adaptation in cities and regions.
With regard to structurally weak areas, the department examines how innovative ideas, practices and projects of spatial development emerge, become established and spread. These ideas, practices and projects are also referred to as “social innovations”. In this context, attention is given to the innovation-driven communicative action of local policymakers, public authorities, civil society actors, and social entrepreneurs. The investigation of digitalised forms of action in the fields of urban planning and design is focused on the question of how far changes in planning practices itself, but also in the constitution of public spaces (e.g. by digitalised processes of communicative planning) as well as in material and spatial arrangements can be observed. The research on climate change examines how global challenges due to climate impacts are perceived and discursively processed in different ways on a national, regional or local level, in particular how socio-cultural factors shape the ways vulnerability is perceived and resilience is constructed.
Header image: Słubice (Poland) viewed from Frankfurt/Oder (Germany) © Heide Fest