Peter Wagner

Universitat de Barcelona

Social & Behavioural Sciences

Educated in economics, political science and sociology in Hamburg, London and Berlin, Peter Wagner has been academically active in various European countries, including Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Norway, as well as in the USA and South Africa, before coming to Barcelona in 2010. He was Research Fellow at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, Professor of Sociology at the U of Warwick and the U of Trento as well as Professor of Social and Political Theory at the European University Institute in Florence. Furthermore, he held visiting positions at Université de Paris 8 (2011); U catholique de Louvain-la-neuve (2009-10); U of Cape Town (2009-10); U of Bergen (2001); Ecole des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris (1998; 2001); U of California at Berkeley (1996; 1997); Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala; Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (1990-91); Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris (1994), among others.

Research interests

Peter Wagner's research is based in comparative historical and political sociology, social and political theory, and sociology of the social sciences. It is focused on the identification and comparative analysis of different forms of social and political modernity and of the historical trajectories of modern societies. In this perspective, the term "modernity" does not signal a single and unique model of social organization, but rather variable interpretations of basic human problématiques in the light of specific historical experiences. It was initially applied to a comparative political sociology of European societies, and subsequently to the transformations in the self-understanding of Europe.  Over the past few years, it was elaborated further towards a "world-sociology", focusing on the tensions between struggles for autonomy and persisting forms of domination and exploring current possibilities of progress in the light of historical experiences in different world-regions.

Selected publications

- Wagner P 2017, 'The end of European modernity?', in: Changing Societies & Personalities, vol. 1, no. 2.

- Wagner P 2017, 'Progreso y modernidad: el problema con la autonomía', Sociología Histórica, no. 7, 2017, 95-120 (as well in English in the same issue: Progress and modernity: the problem with autonomy, pp. 71-94).

- Wagner P 2017, 'Finding one's way in global social space', in Wagner P (ed.), The moral mappings of South and North, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

- Strath B & Wagner P 2017, 'Europaeische und globale Moderne', in Bach M & Hoenig B (eds), Handbuch der Europasoziologie.

- Jaclin D & Wagner P 2017, 'Social sciences and social transformations', in: Social Science Information, vol. 56, no. 4.

- Wagner P (ed) 2017, 'The moral mappings of South and North', Annual of European and Global Studies, vol. 4, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

- Strath B & Wagner P 2017, 'European modernity: a global approach', London: Bloomsbury.

Selected research activities

During 2017, Peter Wagner's main research activity was pursued within the framework of the project “The debt: historicizing Europe's relations to the 'South'”, funded by the consortium Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA, 2016-2019) and pursued in co-operation with the Institute for Social Research, Frankfurt; the University of Helsinki; and the University of Eastern Piedmont. Against the background of the recent financial crisis, the project analyzes the generally increased significance of debt relations in the contemporary world. It aims to go beyond the narrow economic understanding of debt by considering wider historico-cultural and moral-philosophical meanings of indebtedness. The pursuit of this project is part of the wider research programme in a "world-sociology" that aims at providing an adequate "interpretation of the present".