Peter  Wagner

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 is currently project director at Ural Federal University, Ekaterinburg, 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.

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 2019, “Historisches Unrecht im Zeitalter von Menschenrechten und Demokratie”, WestEnd. Neue Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung, vol. 16, no. 2.

– Mota A & Wagner P 2019, Collective action and political transformations: the entangled experiences in Brazil, South Africa and Europe, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press

– Mota A & P Wagner, ‘The Amazon, the Rhino, and the blue sky over the Ruhr. Ecology and politics in the current global context, Changing Societies and Personalities, vol. 4

– Agridopoulos A, Honneth A, Karagiannis N, Wagner P 2019, (eds) Schuld und Schulden, WestEnd. Neue Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 77-148.

Selected research activities

The year 2019 witnessed intense research work in the project “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. Furthermore, the concluding steps of the research project “The debt: historicizing Europe’s relations with the ‘South'” have been taken. This project was funded by the consortium Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) and has had a strong focus on inter-disciplinary conceptual elaboration, exploring varieties of social bonds such as debt, solidarity, recognition and responsibility. Two special issues of journals have been published in 2019 and an edited volume will be forthcoming in 2020.

From October 2019 Peter Wagner has been Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities “Futures of sustainability” at the University of Hamburg. This stay has allowed him to further develop an innovative historico-sociological perspective on questions of global social and ecological justice, which will be the focus of his work in 2020.