Ongoing Research Projects


Governing by Nudge: New Rationalities of Public Health Policies and their Not-So Rational Other

In response to the observed crisis in neoclassical thought and the concept of homo oeconomicus, policy circles around the globe are increasingly focusing on new approaches from which address practical problems and administrative challenges. In this context the subdiscipline of behavioural economics has received prominent attention, as it offers insights and methods that promise to prevent subjects from making irrational choices and suggests new modes of socio-political governance. In particular the concept of “nudging” has risen to prominence as a way of optimizing individual decisions – “more efficient”, “healthier”, “more environmentally friendly” etc. – by designing the respective choice architectures. The project problematizes the different ways in which insights from behavioural economics and neoliberal approaches interconnect. Taking epistemic practices in public health policies as an example it analyses exactly how and at what socio-political ‘cost’ behavioural economics’ knowledge is translated into programs and technologies designed to govern human behaviour.

Principal Investigator: Timm Brückmann und Peter Lindner
Funding: regular budget/DFG-proposal in preparation
Duration: 2017-2022

Securitizing Global Health: Foreign Policy for the Next Global Health Crisis

With the recent Ebola, Zika and other health crises it has become critical for governments to care about global health, develop preventive and protective strategies for pandemics, and strengthen international institutions in reaction to health crises. In Germany, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has established a global health unit to coordinate German global health politics within government agencies and cooperate with international institutions. The placement of this unit as part of Germany’s foreign policy indicates a move from global health as a health-care issue to global health as a question of global governance. Health is increasingly treated as a biopolitical component of security, signifying the relationship between global health strategies and economic and political security. This research project is concerned with how global health is framed in strategies and action plans, and which sociopolitical and sociotechnical decisions influence the increasing elaboration of related technologies and regulations tracing the emergence of new rationalities in global health policies with regard to “preparedness” and security.

Principal Investigator: Mara Linden und Peter Lindner
Funding: regular budget/DFG-proposal in preparation
Duration: 2017-2022

Love and Sex on the Edge of Tomorrow: Economization and Subjectivity on Dating Apps

Discourses around love and sex are increasingly characterized by an economic vocabulary. Building on psychological reflections on human mating behavior in terms of ‘sexual economics‘, this understanding of intimate interpersonal relationships has spread not only to anti-feminist fringe groups in the so called “manosphere” but also to pop-cultural discourses. At the same time new technologies that mediate in novel ways how we get to know each other, how we date, with whom we have sex, and who and how we love are becoming widely accepted. Unlike their forerunners, location-aware dating apps create a virtual space that is often labelled the “sexual marketplace” of today’s generation. This research project scrutinizes the complex interrelations between these two cultural transformations. Against the assumption that a sexual marketplace exists by itself, the starting point of this investigation is how individuals’ practices mediated by digital technologies such as dating apps are becoming economized/marketized, with particular attention to the ways in which dating apps mediate our relationships with ourselves and others through processes of abstraction, gamification and valuation.

Principal Investigator: Tilman Treier und Peter Lindner
Funding: regular budget/DFG-proposal in preparation
Duration: 2017-2022

Markets Coming Closer?

The emergence of the umbrella term “mobile health” indicates a biopolitical shift that reaches far beyond the health-care sector. New micro-sensors measuring movement, heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, oxygen saturation, sleeping cycles etc. and integrated into watches, wristbands, belts, spectacles, contact lenses or the soles of footwear allow for the individualized and continuous surveillance of biophysical indicators. Thus new forms of self-optimization have become possible which are encouraged by health insurers and private companies offering bonus systems or PAYL (pay-as-you-live) tariffs. Referring to these developments, the project “Markets Coming Closer:  Mobile Health, Wearable Technologies and the Economization of Bodily Behaviour” focuses on two changes: first, the increasing shifting of the responsibility for health to the individual, who is pushed by social pressure and economic incentives towards a new kind of “care of the self” (Foucault) via one’s technically sensor-recorded body. Second, the emergence of a new ‘frontier region of marketization’ (Mitchell) in the health-care sector. In this way a market is taking shape in which everyday bodily behaviour is financially compensated and which is characterized by a very specific entanglement of micro-technologies with ethically-loaded imperatives of behaving well on the one hand, and with the promise to serve the public good on the other.

Principal Investigator: Peter Lindner
Funding: regular budget; DFG-proposal in revision
Duration: 2017-2022

Selected puplications:

  • 2019: Molecular politics, wearables, and the aretaic shift in biopolitical governance. In: Theory, Culture & Society, submitted and in print.
  • 2018: Smart Cities — Smart Bodies? In: Bauriedl, Sybille und Anke Strüver (Eds.) Smart City: Kritische Perspektiven auf die Digitalisierung in Städten. Bielefeld: transcript. pp. 161-173.

Privatizing the Kolchoz-Archipelago

This project has its origins in the work carried out for my habilitation (2000 to 2006) and is more of a long-term research interest than a "project" in the strict sense. It has had changing thematic foci during the last 15 years and has been funded by various institutions (German Research Foundation, the World Bank, the Association of the Friends and Sponsors of the Goethe-University Frankfurt).

The starting point was the privatization of collective farms in Russia which affected 10 million employees and nearly 200 million hectares of agricultural land. The failure of this large-scale marketization-endeavour which had followed neoliberal prescriptions led the idea ad absurdum that the establishment of private property rights would inevitably bring about the emergence of markets. The focus of the project at this stage was therefore the question of how the idea of market exchange stood in concrete settings in conflict with other legitimations of everyday (ownership) practices. Later, the redistribution of powers and responsibilities between the municipalities, the restructured large farms and households moved to the foreground. The focus shifted to the now incipient processes of negotiation, in which the blurred boundary between market and state were redefined. The ongoing project "Market Orders and Local Self-Government: (De-)Centralization in Russia's Guided Democracy" emerged from this work. Together with Alexander Vorbrugg I am working on the reconfiguration "of local political economies," which we understand as the contradictory combination of selective global market integration and dependence on local conditions. The empirical point of departure is the nowadays frequently encountered acquisition of entire operations by major national and international investors ("land grabbing"), which marks an entirely new phase of ‘development’ in rural Russia.

Project Team: Peter Lindner, Evelyn Moser and Alexander Vorbrugg
Funding: World Bank, German Research Foundation, regluar budget
Duration: ongoing since 2000

Selected publications:

  • 2017: Dispersed Dispossession. New Agricultural Players, Local Political Economies and De/Structural Violence in Rural Russia (unpublished dissertation, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt). Frankfurt/Main (A. Vorbrugg).
  • 2015: Postsowjetische Transformationen in der Weltgesellschaft: Politische Dezentralisierung und wirtschaftliche Differenzierung im ländlichen Russland. Bielefeld: Transcript (E. Moser).
  • 2008: Der Kolchoz-Archipel im Privatisierungsprozess: Wege und Umwege der russischen Landwirtschaft in die globale Marktgesellschaft. Bielefeld: transcript. google books
  • 2019. Ethnographies of slow violence: Epistemological alliances in fieldwork and narrating ruins. In: Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, advance online.
  • 2017: „Alles hier gehört dem Kolchoz, alles hier gehört mir!“ In: Rosswog, Martin (Ed.). Kolchoz und Bauernhof: Ländliches Leben und Arbeiten in Europa. LVR-Freilichtmuseum Kommern, pp. 49-53.
  • 2016: Forms of communication between large-scale farms and local administrative authorities in Russian villages: About benefactors and sponsors. In: Europe-Asia Studies 68 (8), pp. 1369–1395 (E. Moser).
  • 2013: Situating property in transformation: Beyond the private and the collective. In: Europe-Asia Studies 65 (2013, 7). pp. 1275-1294.
  • 2012: Stagnation und Wandel - Wiederkehr der Landfrage: Großinvestitionen in Russlands Landwirtschaft. In: Osteuropa 62 (2012, 6/8). pp. 325-342 (with A. Vorbrugg).
  • 2009: (De-)centralizing rural Russia: Local self-governance and the “power vertical”. In: Geographische Rundschau International Edition 5 (2009, 3). pp. 12-18 (with E. Moser).
  • 2008: Local self-governance, participation and civic engagement in rural Russia. Washington (report commissioned by the World Bank; with E. Moser and A. Nikulin).

Completed Research Projects

Cities in (Climate-)Change?

Climate policy has for decades been primarily an international and a national concern. Only recently have municipalities explicitly become involved in climate change governance and are establishing themselves as independent actors. In European and nationally funded programs as well as in international, national or regional city networks a particular focus on the promotion of knowledge transfer and exchange of experiences can be observed. But in spite of the enormous popularity of policy instruments such as best practices and case studies, little is known about the reasons for and mechanism of the ample dissemination of these technologies of government. Even more important, the broader implications of the focus on the transfer of “best practices” for the political problematization of climate change and for appropriate ways of governing it remain opaque. The project “Cities in (Climate-)Change? Political Rationalities of Municipal Climate Governance: Governing by Best Practices” is addressing this research gap. It looks at how climate change is made governable in municipalities by the use and dissemination of purportedly “best climate practices”. The program “Masterplan 100% climate protection” of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment and the Climate-KIC Innovation Project “Transition Cities” serve as case studies.

Project Team: Nanja Nagorny-Koring and Peter Lindner in cooperation with Hannes Utikal (Provadis School of International Management and Technology)
Funding: Climate-KIC
Duration: 2014-2017

Selected publications:

  • 2018 (in print): Kommunen im Klimawandel: Best Practices als Chance zur grünen Transformation? Bielefeld: transcript (N. Nagorny-Koring).
  • 2018: Replication vs mentoring: Accelerating the spread of good practices for the low-carbon transition. In: International Journal of Sustainable Development & Planning 13/2, pp. 316–328 (S. Boulanger and N. Nagorny-Koring).
  • 2018: Managing urban transitions in theory and practice: The case of the pioneer cities and transition cities projects. In: Journal of Cleaner Production 175, pp. 60-69 (N. Nagorny-Koring and T. Nochta).
  • 2018: Leading the way with examples and ideas?: Governing climate change in German municipalities through best practices. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning (N. Nagorny-Koring).
  • Nagorny-Koring, N. (2019): The power-knowledge of best practice. In: Cashmore, Matthew; Jensen, Jens S. and Späth, Philipp (Eds.): The Politics of Urban Transitions: Knowledge, Power and Governance. London/New York: Routledge (Research in Sustainable Urbanism, 5), pp. 67-87.

Creativity Policy?

The project "Creativity Policy - On the Origin and Differentiation of a New Political Field in the Age of Neoliberalism" has its roots in the work on a creative economy report for the City of Frankfurt (together with Ch Berndt, P. Goeke and V. Neisen). Here it became obvious that the discussion about creativity, a creative milieu and the creative economy as the basis of urban development, despite all the justified criticism, had long become performative and created its own reality. Promoted among others by the work of the city planner Richard Florida, urban development programs were refocused to address arts and (sub)cultural scenes, which hitherto had managed to keep a certain degree of autonomy and subjected them increasingly to the criteria of economic impact. This process is embedded in and enhanced by the emergence of a new political field, which we refer to as "creative policy," the working, differentiation and effects of which are investigated in the project. We focus in particular on the way in which different and often conflicting rationalities of urban governance - market-oriented economic development, urban planning, art and cultural policy - are articulated together and merged into new consensual programmes. For the empirical work, Frankfurt am Main serves as a case study.

Project Team: Iris Dzudzek and Peter Lindner
Funding: German Research Foundation
Duration: 2010-2014

Selected publications:

  • 2016: Kreativpolitik: Über die Machteffekte einer neuen Regierungsform des Städtischen. Bielefeld: transcript (I. Dzudzek).
  • 2018: Kreative Stadt. In: Bernd Belina, Matthias Naumann and Anke Strüver (Eds.): Handbuch kritische Stadtgeographie (3. Aufl.). Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot, pp. 184–189 (I. Dzudzek).
  • 2018: Creativity policy: Conserving neoliberalism’s Other in a market assemblage? In: Economic Geography 94/2, pp. 97-117 (P. Lindner).
  • 2015: Performing the creative-economy script: Contradicting urban rationalities at work. In: Regional Studies 49 (2015, 3). pp. 388-403 (P. Lindner and I. Dzudzek).
  • 2014: Vergesst Kreativität! In: Bildpunkt - Zeitschrift der IG Bildende Kunst (2014/3), pp. 28-29 (I. Dzudzek).
  • 2013: Unternehmen oder Unvernehmen? – Über die Krise des Kreativsubjekts und darüber hinaus. In: Geographica Helvetica 68 (2013/3), pp. 181-189 (I. Dzudzek).
  • 2012: Coworking Space. In: Nadine Marquardt and Verena Schreiber (Eds.): Ortsregister: Ein Glossar zu Räumen der Gegenwart. Bielefeld: transcript. pp. 70-75. (I. Dzudzek).
  • 2008: Креативный город: проектирование модели на примере Франкфурта [Die kreative Stadt: Modell und Projekt am Beispiel Frankfurts]. In: Никулин, Александр (Ed.). 2008. Пути России: культура – общество человек: материалы международного симпозиума (25-26 января 2008 года). Москва. pp. 128-147.
  • 2008: Kreativwirtschaftsbericht Frankfurt. Frankfurt a.M. (report commissioned by the Department of Economic Development of the City of Frankfurt, available online; with Ch. Berndt, P. Goeke and V. Neisen). pdf  2 MB

Frontier Regions of Marketization

Project Team: Stefan Ouma, Marc Boeckler and Peter Lindner
Funding: German Research Foundation
Duration: 2010-2013

The global market for agricultural goods is experiencing a profound change. Food crises and food scandals go along with higher quality standards and a rising demand for non-seasonal high-quality goods that were little known in Europe until recently. As a consequence of these developments frontier regions – regions in the global south, where agricultural production was hitherto mainly subsistence-oriented or traded locally – have been integrated into world market relations and fundamentally restructured by transnational companies. Thereby, orthodox market models serve as operational blueprints, but are adapted to local settings and thus bring about new market orders. The project "The Global Agricultural Market and Its Fuzzy Boundaries: Forms and Consequences of the Integration of Smallholders in Global Commodity Chains" has these developments as its core concern. It is focussing on two sample regions in Ghana, where the production of just-in-time fruit salads and organic mangoes for the European market began only recently. Six complementary perspectives on the newly emerging arrangements as well as on the performativity of market models provide the basis for the empirical work: the definition of new products, pricing in "weak" markets, the regulation of competition, different market models as points of reference, mechanisms of control and sanction, and new modes of social differentiation as a consequence of market integration.

Selected publications:

  • 2015: Assembling Export Markets. The Making and Unmaking of Global Food Connections in West Africa. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell (S. Ouma).
  • 2013: Extending the margins of marketization: Frontier regions and the making of agro-export markets in northern Ghana. In: Geoforum 48, pp. 225-235 (S. Ouma, M. Boeckler and P. Lindner).
  • 2012: Creating and maintaining global connections: Agro-business and the precarious making of fresh-cut markets. In: Journal of Development Studies 48 (3), pp. 322–334 (S. Ouma).
  • 2012: Markets in the Making: Zur Ethnographie alltäglicher Marktkonstruktionen in organisationalen Settings. In: Geografica Helvetica 67 (4), pp. 203–211 (S. Ouma).
  • 2012: The making and remaking of agroindustries in Africa. In: Journal of Development Studies 48 (3), pp. 301–307 (S. Ouma and L. Whitfield).
  • 2010: Von Märkten und Reisenden: Geographische Entwicklungsforschung oder Wirtschaftsgeographien des Globalen Südens? In: Geographische Rundschau 62 (10), pp. 12–19 (P. Lindner and S. Ouma).

Industrial City Frankfurt?

Project Team: Peter Lindner, Stefan Ouma, Max Klöppinger and Marc Boeckler
Development / Duration: Frankfurt Economic Development; 2012-2013

Since the financial crisis in Europe there has been a recent reassessment of the overall economic importance of manufacturing. At the same time a different picture of industrial production has become apparent which finds its most prominent expression in the depiction of a "fourth industrial revolution." The consequences of these developments for urban and regional economic policy, however, are largely unclear. Against this background, the city of Frankfurt has decided to advance a master plan for its industries, which aims to determine the pathways of the city’s economic development in the coming years. The project "Frankfurt’s Industries" provides the basics for this master plan by consistently taking the perspectives of entrepreneurs and their employees and aims to offer a detailed and nuanced picture of a sector which is increasingly difficult to delineate from the service sector. To this end, the study combines a traditional SWOT-approach with an in-depth analysis of networks and value chains and outlines the most important fields of intervention for the future master plan.

Selected publications:

  • 2014: Industriestudie Frankfurt am Main 2013. Frankfurt a. M.: Peter Lang (P. Lindner et al.). 

Creative Industries in Frankfurt

  • Project Team: Ch Berndt, P. Goeke , P. Lindner and V. Neisen
  • Funding: Frankfurt Economic Development GmbH
  • Duration: 2007-2008

“In Russia I Was Cursed a ‘Fascist’, Here I Became a ‘Russakin’” – The Ambivalent Role of Migrant Institutions for Russian-Germans in Germany

  • Project Team: M. Savoskul and P. Lindner
  • Funding: German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), university funds
  • Duration: 2004-2007

Privatizing Post-Soviet Space: Gated Communities in Moscow

  • Project Team: S. Lentz and P. Lindner
  • Funding: University funds
  • Duration: 2002-2005

Structural Change or Simply Re-Labeling? Modes of Structuration in Rural Russia After the Privatisation of the Collective Farms

  • Researcher: P. Lindner
  • Funding: German Research Foundation
  • Duration: 2000-2002

Entrepreneurship and Development in the West Bank: An Institution-Oriented Approach

  • Researcher: P. Lindner
  • Funding: Bavarian Research Cooperation Area Studies ( FORAREA )
  • Duration: 1995-1998

Relationships between Research and Practice in the Social Sciences: The Practical Relevance of Economic and Social Geography

  • Project Team: H. Kopp and P. Lindner
  • Funding: Dept. of Sociology, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg/BMBF
  • Duration: 1997-1998

The Transformation of Popular Holy Places and Islamic Pilgrimage Sites in Morocco

  • Researcher: P. Lindner
  • Funding: Zantner-Busch Foundation, university funds
  • Duration: 1993-1995

Extreme Outdoor Sports: The Socio-Spatial Appropriation of Nature as Event-Spaces

  • Project Team: A. Escher and P. Lindner
  • Funding: Zantner-Busch Foundation, university funds
  • Duration: 1993-1995

The Yagnobi (Tajikistan): Livelihood Strategies in the Pamir-Alai between Subsistence and Dependence

  • Project Team: A. Badenkov, A. Gunja and P. Lindner
  • Funding: IGU, university funds
  • Duration: 1992-1994