Research Questions and Objectives

In an era of major crisis and change, maintaining an overview is crucial. Society is changing and being changed in countless areas, making specific knowledge and empirical studies of individual changes necessary. Cultivating an understanding of connections is also indispensable, as only upon this foundation can developments be evaluated. These connections are not linear, but rather always contested. Which different scenarios can be expected? And what options of strategic intervention emerge, or rather are to be developed?

Who are the bearers of the developments we observe? Which groups are being pushed out of democratic procedures, and how does it happen? How are inequalities produced and reproduced? What leads to the emergence of new social groups, subjects, classes, milieus (such as the “digital class”, the precariat)? Which praxes of emancipatory forces have proven themselves durable—and which less so? What can we learn from defeats? How can diverse social praxes and forces be combined? One of the major challenges in doing so: how can we overcome the fragmentation and division of the Left in society?

With great effort we study forms and problems of re-organizing the broad Left in numerous countries and transnationally across borders. In doing so, we always also pursue a productive interaction with differences. These are often false polarities: if they are not processed, they can lead to explosive consequences, slowing down or even splitting a mosaic or organization. Hence, what are the conditions for forming a new left-wing bloc capable of introducing a change of direction in society? Our approach proceeds from concrete problems and concrete individuals: the Left often proceeds from “objective” facts and developments. However, there are good reasons to think about politics from the life perspectives and action strategies of the subjects themselves.

The Institute for Critical Social Analysis stands in the tradition of a pluralistic Marxism, critical theory and praxis, as well as feminist and anti-racist critiques of capitalism and domination, and takes up the findings of modern empirical and theoretical social sciences. Our goal is to conduct social research geared towards emancipation and intervention. It is about a new type of transformative knowledge oriented towards emancipatory, self-empowering praxis—a format that processes, analyses, reflects, and strategically initiates or even organizes praxes of mosaic formation and left identities. In doing so we place ourselves between lines of division, and in a sense take a risk, moving on new terrain in search of answers because we know that we must leave that which we know behind.

The Institute pursues its own conceptual approach to socialist transformation research. Important findings are published in, among others, the Beiträge zur Transformationsforschung series. We invite all to a debate on transformative perspectives in Germany and internationally. Through organized advisory councils, scientific workshops, strategy conferences, publications, etc., the Institute contributes to an important discussion process of the Left at home and abroad. It supports science-oriented Left projects and offers learning and further education opportunities on left-wing theory, politics, and socialist perspectives. Alongside the researchers, graduate students, and post-grads and Fellows, the Institute engages young scholars, politicians, and activists in a broad, pluralistic Left.