Thematic Areas

Social and cultural anthropology uses a comparative approach to study the processes connected with colonialism, post-colonialism, globalisation and the socio-cultural dynamics of the present day. The focus of the related research is on the world outside Europe, on international comparisons and transnational areas of research. Methodological aspects of historical anthropology are also taken into account. New theoretical and methodological approaches are pursued to analyse the relevant research questions from multiple perspectives that go beyond Europe and North America. In addition, social and cultural diversity and its organisational actors are studied from a global perspective.

In nursing science, the focus is on questions of nursing as a field of action that covers the whole lifespan of human beings and includes different levels (from individuals to policies) and the entire chain of care services. In addition to basic research, applied research, as well as the transfer of academic insights to the practical sphere, are of key importance. The key research areas of nursing science are family-related, oncological and gerontological nursing. Family-related nursing is oriented towards responses to diseases at the family level, with regard to acute care and care at home; oncological nursing focuses on experiences related to disease and treatments as well as the corresponding assessments and interventions; and in gerontological nursing, aspects of long-term care needs, as well as people suffering from dementia, are of particular interest.

Political and government science focus both empirically and theoretically on topics such as the politics and government of states, governance, the state and democracy and development, and change in different regions of the world. The main foci are on the analysis of globalisation and Europeanisation, the comparison of (both established and young) democracies, the study of public opinion and elections, coalitions and representation, migration from the perspective of social inclusion and exclusion, the transformation of gender relationships, sustainability, environment and resources, as well as visual studies. The corresponding research and teaching activities are characterised by problem oriented perspectives, a plurality of approaches to research, and interdisciplinary cooperation.

Research in the area of communication investigates processes of private and public communication through media and technology, as well as its infrastructural conditions. The analyses in this field focus on the changes in media content and technology, as well as the resulting effects on individuals, society and politics.

The main working areas of sociology follow the traditions of the Viennese School of Sociology (for instance, logical empiricism of the Vienna Circle and social phenomenology of Alfred Schütz), simultaneously aiming at current social challenges in Austria and Europe. Research focuses on societal problems, is empirically oriented and of high practical relevance. At the same time, sociological research also represents those theoretical approaches that are important for the discipline. Current working priorities lie in the areas of (1) work, organisation, gender relations; (2) family, generations, life course; (3) migration, ethnicity, social inequality and (4) culture, knowledge and visual worlds.

Science and technology studies
aim at investigating the increasingly closer links between change in science and technology on the one hand, and social change on the other. This is essential, as innovation in science and technology is increasingly often regarded as a key means of responding to great societal challenges. Research in this field focuses on (1) the dynamics of the science system, (2) the interactions between technoscience and publics, as well as (3) the relationship between scientific and technological developments and democratic practice. Across the individual areas, questions of values and valuation, as well as responsibility in research and innovation, are of key importance. Recourse to a comparative perspective between different subject areas, national and institutional contexts, as well as to methodological innovation with regard to qualitative social research, also plays an important role in the corresponding research.

Transdisciplinary analysis of and reflection on global inequalities, critical supervision of development cooperation as well as questions about the methodology and methods in development research are at the heart of development studies. This integration of different perspectives into the analysis of problematic areas is crucial to enable a profound understanding of political, economic, social and cultural processes, dynamics and power structures on a global and local level. Therefore, transdisciplinary development research incorporates perspectives from a variety of areas of knowledge and practice and aims at combining theory and practice.

As a cross-sectional focus, the manifold approaches to methodology in the social sciences are thoroughly examined: ranging from the selection of methods for testing research hypotheses to highlighting their interaction with the formation of theories. Furthermore, theoretical and methodological discussions across different disciplines and epistemological boundaries are initiated and encouraged. The collaboration of researchers from different disciplines promotes innovation and progress with regard to both theory formation and methods applied. The present focus is on ethnography, survey research and text analysis. This, again, particularly influences current research in the areas of communication, political science and social anthropology.