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 a member of Academia Europaea and chair of the section "Social change and social thought" there.

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 2020, ‘Is there a crisis of European democracy? The political condition of our time’, Journal of the British Academy, 8(s2): 1–9.

- Karagiannis N, and Wagner P 2020, "The indebted subject and social transformations: the possibility of resistance and empowerment", in S Nygård, ed., The Politics of Debt and Europe’s Relations with the ‘South’, Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP.

- Wagner P 2020, 'COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, and the "Spanish flu": historical moments and social transformations', Thesis Eleven, special issue on the pandemic.

- Wagner P 2020 'Knowing how to act well in time', Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 17, pages 507–513.

- Wagner P 2020, "The South as a moving target", in S Nygård, ed., The Politics of Debt and Europe’s Relations with the ‘South’, Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP.

- Jaclin D & Wagner P 2020, Uncertainty and the prospect of major social transformations, Social Science Information, vol. 59, no. 4, 1-3.

Selected research activities

Building on work done during a stay at the Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities "Futures of sustainability" at the University of Hamburg during autumn/winter 2019/20, a new historico-sociological perspective on questions of global social and ecological justice has been developed, the further elaboration of which will be the focus of research during the next few years. 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 will create 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.