Ruhr-University Bochum and TU Dortmund University offer three research-oriented Master’s programs focusing on the intersecting areas of philosophy and political science: MA “Philosophie und Politikwissenschaft” (MAPP, Dortmund), MA “Ethics, Economics, Law and Politics” (EELP, Bochum), and MA “Globalisierung, Transnationalisierung und Governance” (GTG, Bochum). These three programs serve as the pillars of GSPC and will allow us to develop an interdisciplinary perspective on the issue of political cohesion, which will be expanded across other disciplines throughout the course of this project.
These three programs and the current faculty serve as the starting point from which we will gradually build up an international graduate school actively seeking partnerships and cooperations with other institutions and disciplines.
This solid basis will enable us to fulfill our main goals:
Political Cohesion: Justice, Identity, Participation, and Security from an International Perspective
The researchers of the GSPC will begin by examining both the potential and limitations of political cohesion from a philosophical and political science perspective, gradually incorporating more disciplines over the course of the project. We will specifically focus on the interaction between political actors (collective actors such as societies, states and non-state-actors), which leads us to our five central research aspects:
1. Definition of the term political cohesion in contrast to forms of social cohesion
The quality of social relations, identification with a social group, and orientation towards the common good are typically regarded as central indicators of social cohesion. Whether shared values, social equality, and the general quality of life are conditions or results of social cohesion is still the topic of heated discussions among both sociologists and scholars of cultural studies.
This broad term will be the cornerstone of developing a conception of political cohesion in the GSPC in contrast to social cohesion. In our research, we will focus on political groups, especially political institutions and interests, as well as political ideas and values. In the GSPC, political cohesion is defined as the intersection of collective actors (e.g. society, states, NGOs, companies, churches) in terms of their formal and informal sets of rules, patterns of legitimacy, utility considerations, and non-material values.
2. Increasingly visible fragility of forms of political cohesion
Recent developments have shown that political structures and constellations, previously thought to be stable, grow increasingly fragile: the EU is in the middle of an ongoing crisis of legitimacy and efficiency and left in a weakened state because of the Brexit, transatlantic relations grow more and more estranged, and the relations between Europe and Russia, as well as Turkey, are marked by tension. Similar developments can be seen within states themselves, where the political landscape is changing due to rising populist and anti-establishment movements. A possible but theoretically underdeveloped explanation of these phenomena is a weakening political cohesion, caused by societal fractures that disintegrate political structures and regimes.
This leads to one of the central questions of this graduate school: which additional assumptions are required for a more stable form of political cohesion?
3. Focus on international forms of political cohesion and the international relevance of political cohesion in single states
Many of the current challenges for political cohesion are found on the international level, especially when taking into account that domestic conflicts are oftentimes the result of international processes such as migration.
Despite this, scholars of political cohesion in both philosophy and political science tend to focus on research of single states. The GSPC will stress the need for research on the international level and seek to shed light on the multidimensional aspects of political cohesion by analyzing it in single states, but within the context of an increasingly complex international political system.
4. Observation of the international significance of political cohesion from a philosophical and political science perspective
The GSPC’s focus on political cohesion and its international dimension suggests a connection between the perspectives of philosophy and political science. The former will lay the groundwork with normative questions and conceptual clarity, while the latter will provide us with a more analytical perspective on political cohesion in densely institutionalized political contexts.
Bringing philosophy and political science together will allow us to analyze the meaning of cohesion in given political constellations, what it could and should be.
5. Identification of Justice, Identity, Participation, and Security as the four central dimensions of political cohesion
The GSPC will closely analyze the interaction of four empiric and conceptual dimensions of political cohesion: justice, identity, participation, and security. Our goal is to find out in which way various forms of political cohesion are connected to each of these dimensions in an international context. At the same time, we will research the interaction and potential for interdependence among these dimensions, e.g. whether security requires participation or vice versa.