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 focuses 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 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 2018, 'Fortschritt. Zur Erneuerung einer Idee', Frankfurt/M: Campus.

- Wagner P 2018, 'Towards a conceptual history of the present: democracy, rights, and freedom in the recent Catalan conflict', Social Science Information, vol. 57, no. 4.

- Wagner P 2018, 'Social and political philosophy, historical-comparative sociology and the critical diagnosis of the present: a reply', Social Imaginaries, vol. 4, no. 2, 109-134.

- van der Linden M, Reis E, Livi Bacci M, Wagner P et al. 2018, 'Social trends and new geographies, in Rethinking Society for the 21st Century', Report of the International Panel on Social Progress, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 9-40.

Selected research activities

The year 2018 witnessed the concluding step of the research project "Trajectories of modernity" with the finalization of the book manuscript "Collective action and political transformations: the entangled experiences in Brazil, South Africa and Europe", jointly authored with Aurea Mota and to be published by Edinburgh UP in the spring of 2019. At the same time, a continuation project has been started under the title "Varieties of modernity in the current global context: the role of BRICS and the Global South". Based at Ural Federal University in Ekaterinburg and funded by the Russian Science Foundation, this project allows the extension of the historical-comparative perspective on modernity to include further world-regions and thus to take an important step in the envisaged elaboration of a world-sociology of modernity.

In parallel, 2018 was marked by intense research activity in the project "The debt: historicizing Europe's relations with the 'South'", funded by the consortium Humanities in the European Research Area. This project has a strong focus on inter-disciplinary conceptual elaboration, exploring varieties of social bonds such as debt, solidarity, recognition and responsibility. Beyond UB it involves the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research, U of Helsinki, and U of Eastern Piedmont.