A Divided Society: Reality or Myth?

Steffen Mau, Hans Vorländer and Linus Westheuser on present day conflict zones

2023/24 Gespräch Auswärts Gebärdensprache

Since the world financial crisis, society has been in a permanent state of crisis. There is often talk of division and polarization. But how strongly have the political upheavals in dealing with the Corona pandemic and the war in Ukraine affected society? Is there really a deep rift running through the middle of society, or is it just being talked about? This is the topic of a conversation with Steffen Mau, Hans Vorländer and Linus Westheuser.

Sociologists Steffen Mau and Linus Westheuser from the Humboldt University in Berlin believe that politics, the media and society have a duty. After all, conflicts are often ignited, fueled and triggered where none exist yet. In their new book “Trigger Points: Consensus and Conflict in Contemporary Society,” they conclude that while social consensus is broader than expected, new forms of conflictual politicization are also emerging.

Political scientist Hans Vorländer broadens his view of Europe and identifies new potentials for conflict. The data from the Mercator Forum Migration and Democracy (MIDEM) polarization study paint a thoroughly mixed picture of political conflicts. While there is no rift running right across Europe, there is also no reason to sound the all-clear. The issues of climate change and migration are particularly heated. In a comparison of the two findings, the scientists discuss together which conflict potentials currently characterize Germany and Europe and how deep the social divides actually run.

Moderation: Kathrin Müller-Lancé
Duration: ca. 2 h
Language: German with sign language

Location: Event hall at the Institute for Wood Technology, Zellescher Weg 24

Register for the podiums discussion here

A collaborative event with the Mercator Forum Migration and Democracy (MIDEM) at the TU Dresden.


Link to book    Link to the polarization study

Steffen Mau, born in 1968, is a professor of macrosociology at Humboldt University in Berlin. His book “Lütten Klein. Leben in der ostdeutschen Transformationsgesellschaft” (st 5092) was number 1 on the nonfiction bestseller lists of ZDF, Zeit, and Deutschlandfunk Kultur. In 2021, he received the Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation.

Linus Westheuser, born in 1989, is a research associate at the Department of Macrosociology at Humboldt University in Berlin and conducts research on the political sociology of social inequality. He is currently working with Steffen Mau and Thomas Lux on the four-year project “New Inequalities, New Divisions? A Political Sociology of Contemporary Society.” 

Hans Vorländer is director of the Mercator Forum Migration and Democracy (MIDEM) and the Center for Constitutional and Democracy Studies (ZVD) at the TU Dresden. From 1993 to 2020, he held the Chair of Political Theory and History of Ideas. He is chairman of the Council of Experts on Integration and Migration. His areas of work include political theory, constitution, democracy, populism, and migration and integration.

Kathrin Müller-Lancé has been writing for the Süddeutsche Zeitung since 2019. She studied politics in Freiburg and Aix-en-Provence and then attended the German School of Journalism in Munich. After a stint in Paris, she has been an editor in the SZ’s politics department since 2023.