Peter  Wagner

Peter Wagner

Universitat de Barcelona

Social & Behavioural Sciences

Educated in economics, political science and sociology in Hamburg, London and Berlin, Peter Wagner joined ICREA in 2010. Before, he was Research Fellow at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (1983-1995), Professor of Sociology at the U of Warwick (1996-2006) and the U of Trento (2006-2010) as well as Professor of Social and Political Theory at the European University Institute in Florence (1999-2006). Furthermore, he was project director at Ural Federal University, Ekaterinburg (2018-2020), and held visiting positions at the University of Hamburg (2019-20), Université de Paris 8 (2011); U catholique de Louvain-la-neuve (2009-10); U of Cape Town (2009-10); EHESS, Paris (1998; 2001); U of California at Berkeley (1996; 1997); Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala; Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (1990-91), among others. He is chair of the Academia Europaea section "Social change and social thought" and of the Task Force Environment, Sustainability, Climate.

Research interests

Peter Wagner's research is based in comparative historical and political sociology, social and political theory, and sociology of the social sciences, and it focuses on the historical trajectories and transformations of modern societies. Analyzing the persisting tensions between struggles for autonomy and forms of domination, it explores in the light of historical experiences in different world-regions the current possibilities of progress, not least in the face of human action reaching and exceeding planetary boundaries. Initially applied to a comparative political sociology of European societies, the research programme has been elaborated further towards a "world-sociology", focusing on Latin American, Southern African and more broadly BRICS societies in terms of global connectedness. Since 2022, he has also led the research cluster "Modernity in Central Asia" at the University of Central Asia.

Selected publications

- Wagner, P 2023, 'Ways out of the modern labyrinth: normative expectations and subsequent social change', In L’ubomir Dunaj et al. (eds.), Civilization, Modernity, and Critique: Engaging Johann P. Arnason’s Macro-Social Theory, London: Routledge.
- Wagner P, 2023, 'Autonomy and equality: exploring the antinomy of modernity (if any)', International Journal of Social Imaginaries
- Wagner P 2023, 'The Virus and the Atmosphere: Reviewing the Trajectory of Human History', Journal Of Bioethical Inquiry
- Wagner P, 2023, Theories of the political, in William Outhwaite and Laurence Ray, eds, Teaching political sociology, London: Elgar, forthcoming.

- Wagner P 2023, Johann Arnason’s unanswered question: To what end does one combine historical-comparative sociology with social and political philosophy?', Thesis Eleven 174 (1): 3-20.

Selected research activities

During 2023, work on a new historico-sociological perspective on the relation between societal self-understandings and the use of biophysical resources, including questions of global social and ecological justice, has been completed. The systematic consideration of the changing use of biophysical resources alters our view of the world-regionally uneven processes of "modernization and development" and provides a much-needed historical understanding for the current debate about global sustainability. Ultimately, such a historical-comparative analysis of socio-ecological transformations creates substantive underpinnings for the application of the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities", to which the signatories of the Paris Agreement on climate change have committed themselves without, though, implementing it. The results of this research are summarized in the book Carbon Societies. The Social Logic of Fossil Fuels, scheduled to be published by Polity Press in June 2024.