Thematic Areas

Social and cultural anthropology studies the diverse forms of cultural expression and ways of living from the viewpoint of the actors involved, and from comparative and historical perspectives. The corresponding processes are considered in the context of regional and global developments. One research focus is on the world outside Europe, on international comparisons and transnational connections. Here, the interactions of global transformations with local processes of the present day are of particular relevance. For the multiple theoretical and methodological approaches of social and cultural anthropology, insights from the ‘global South’ and areas that are often described as the ‘Euro-American periphery’ play an important role.

In sociology, the focus is on an analysis of current social challenges and developments in Austria and Europe. Research is oriented towards current social problems, has a strong empirical orientation and is closely related to contexts of application. It is integrated into the international discourse and develops sociological theories on the basis of relevant social diagnoses. The current focuses are (1) work, organisation and gender relations; (2) family, generations and life course; (3) migration, cities and social inequality; as well as (4) knowledge, culture and visual worlds.

Political science
and government empirically and theoretically address questions of politics and governance, state and democracy and their development and change in different regions of the world. Four main areas are covered: (1) political theory (research into the history of ideas and the normative foundations of political order, and into the transformation of gender relationships and political culture); (2) comparative politics (comparison of political systems in different world regions and the study of democratic representation, of public opinion, political institutions and organisations, as well as different policy fields); (3) Austrian politics (research on political competition, migration and diversity, as well as social policy) and Europeanisation; and (4) international politics (analysis of globalisation, studies of sustainability and resource politics) and European studies. The activities in each of the above fields are characterised by problem-oriented perspectives in research and teaching, a plurality of approaches to research, as well as interdisciplinary cooperation. A common denominator in research is the analysis of processes of political transformation.

Research in the area of communication examines processes of private and public communication through media and technology, and its infrastructural conditions. Analyses focus on the changes in media-based communication methods and topics communicated, as well as the resulting effects on individuals, society, politics and gender relations. The main research topics currently cover the areas of (1) journalism, (2) political communication and media policy, (3) advertising and public relations, (4) media history and media innovation/new media, as well as (5) the development of methods.

In science and technology studies, the focus is on the ever-closer links between scientific, technological and societal change. Analysing these changes is of key relevance today, as scientific and technological innovations are regarded as drivers of the economy and means for overcoming major societal challenges. At the same time, new knowledge and new technologies often give rise to frequently controversial socio-political questions. With regard to research subjects, the focus is on analysing how knowledge and innovation are generated, what role science and technology play in the organisation of societies at global and local levels, and how this is discussed and influenced in democracies. Across these different subjects, the role of values and evaluations in science and society, as well as questions of responsibility in research and innovation are addressed. Interdisciplinary cooperation with the corresponding scientific and technological fields is of particular relevance for science and technology studies at the Faculty.

Nursing science addresses questions of nursing as a field of action and covers the whole human lifespan. Analyses include different levels – from individuals to families as well as social and political structures – and the entire chain of care services. In all three thematic areas, namely family-related, oncological and gerontological nursing, the research activities link the views of medicine and of social science on relevant social phenomena. Besides basic research and the development as well as the evaluation of interventions, the focus is on health services research and implementation research.

Research in the area of development studies is oriented towards reflection on global inequalities from a transdisciplinary perspective, a critical discussion of development cooperation, as well as questions of methodology and methods of development research. This integration of multiple perspectives into the analysis of problem areas is necessary to enable a profound understanding of political, economic, social and cultural processes, dynamics and power structures at the global and local levels. Trans- disciplinary development research therefore incorporates the perspectives of different fields of knowledge and practice and aims at linking theory and practice.

Demography is the scientific study of changing population size and structures. It analyses the structures of human populations by age, sex, place of residence, level of educational attainment, labour force participation and other essential demographic characteristics of individuals. Formal demography analyses these changes with the help of mathematical models, which also allow projections over several decades under certain assumptions about future fertility, mortality and migration. Demography also addresses comprehensively the determinants and consequences of these population changes including the impacts on society, the economy and the environment in all parts of the world.

The Faculty’s research profile is complemented by interdisciplinary cooperation. This takes place in a thorough examination of the manifold approaches to methodology in the social sciences, ranging from the use of methods for testing research hypotheses to highlighting their interaction with the formation of theories.