Social Perspectives of Change

The interdisciplinary research area focuses on social change processes and the resulting challenges for key players in politics, business and civil society. The focus is on education, provision of services of general public interest, diversity and communication, microeconomies, interdependencies and international relationships as well as their legal frameworks.

 

The following are actively engaged in the research area:

  • Faculty of Trade and Social Work
  • Faculty of Mechanical Engineering
  • Faculty of Law (BELS)
  • Faculty of Social Work
  • Faculty of Transport-Sports-Tourism-Media
  • Faculty of Business
  • Centre for Social Innovation (ZEGI)

 

What exactly is being researched:

Within the framework of the field of research, issues are examined that, in the context of current societal (economic, political, legal, cultural, social, etc.) change processes, pose new challenges for political, economic and civil-society players, to which they must respond with sustainable decisions and reflected interventions in order to maintain their capacity for competitiveness and innovation and/or the attractiveness of their residential, working and economic areas.

These changes emerge in various sectors of these areas, ranging from education, healthcare, trade and order, through to culture. There is a specific focus on regions, which, in this social context, should be investigated in interdisciplinary research contexts as far as possible. In this way, issues such as public services (transport, healthcare, supplies and waste disposal), international relations and social integration, as well as the analysis of individual economies and the influence of changing legal framework conditions are primary factors within this field of research.

The goal is to capture change processes and their importance in a multi-perspective manner, in order to ultimately develop scientifically sound design options.

 

Researchers give an insight into their work

In interviews, the researchers present the research area and one of their research projects.

 

Social Perspectives of Change - Prof. Jain and Prof. Litschen

Prof. Jain and Prof. Litschen in dialogue about the research area

"We want to take the fear of the future away"

Politics, economics and international relations, work, education and public services: plenty of things are on the move and changing. How our society can cope with changes is the research interest of Andreas Jain and Kai Litschen. In this interview, the two professors at Ostfalia talk about how they want to shape the changes and about the opportunities and risks offered by the future. And they explain why their research area requires the cooperation of many disciplines.

 


Professor Jain, Professor Litschen, what are you working on in the research area "Social Perspectives of Change"?

Andreas Jain: Social change is characterised by its persistence; our society is continually changing. This is due to the fact that each generation has its own objectives, ideas, values and technologies. Therefore, we are continually forced to adapt to these changes. This is not easy for us humans: we would always go on as we are used to. How we can nonetheless cope with these changes: this is what we examine in our research area.

Kai Litschen: So far it has been the case that the perspectives for change have at best been accompanied and described by research. In our research area the approach goes a bit further: We want to steer the development and offer society solutions for what is coming. Many aspects of our everyday life in the future, and what we want to prepare people for, is already around the corner.

 


Which aspects, for example?

Kai Litschen: I am dealing with the digitisation of work. It will not only change the world of work but also our society. Servicing the machines will be a highly qualified work that requires a high level of training of the workers. On the other hand, people will need to perform simple activities, because in their area digitisation will not be worthwhile. This development poses a risk. We must ensure that the difference in qualification between these two groups does not also lead to a social division.

 


What can you do to steer the changes in the working world?

Kai Litschen: I would like to illustrate this with an example: People usually went to work around 8am and went home at 5pm. Today, this is neither necessary, nor does it account for the needs of society and the desire for work-life balance. Here the flexibilisation of work offers an opportunity – for example, the freedom for people to choose the place of work according to their own point of view. Instead of having to take on long commutes into the office, we will be able to work from home and gain two hours’ time for more quality of life. As a legal scholar, I must think about how to measure this work performance and how the employer can ensure that the employee is earning his or her salary.

Andreas Jain: Such a change to labour law has several implications. If people no longer have to drive two hours to work, the traffic routes need to be organised differently. Additionally, they need a place of residence where it is possible to pursue their work. It is also possible that people will have more children because they will be able to balance work and family life better. We in our research area are challenged to help shape these changes.

 


What do you need in order to shape them?

Andreas Jain: In any case, the expertise of many different disciplines. We need the jurists to adjust labour law to the new needs. We need myself as a planner to generate the spatial structures. And also those who create the political conditions to promote sensible developments – for example, with funding instruments that reward having children. What can happen if you make this or that adjustment – this is also our task. We integrate the disciplines and are, so to speak, the transdisciplinary center in which all come together. Including the sociologist who asks: Does society want all of this at all?

 


What are urgent questions to which we as a society need to find answers?

Andreas Jain: How can we succeed in organising people living together globally? Everything is so close together, in the meantime any change in another country also has an impact on us. In Germany, we have understood that the strong must help the weak, for example with the financial equalisation between the federated states. We must begin to think this way globally as well.

Kai Litschen: How do we want to live together as a society in the future? More and more people are wondering what the social services can do for them. Actually, it should be the other way round: What can I do for the social services? This development is demonstrated by the fact that associations, trade unions and churches are losing members. Willingness to participate is declining. We need to move society towards greater involvement.

 


Can you contribute to a better future?

Andreas Jain: Yes, by creating the right structures for changes and giving people security. We want to take the fear of the future away. This fear is not good for our life together; it paralyses the development of society. If our research were to make people happier, this would also make me very happy.

 

 

Social Perspectives of Change - Prof. Rau

Prof. Rau and Annika Ehlers talk about Location Based Services

Location Based Services: This is what the future of journalism looks like

What is close to us interests us most. This is the principle behind local journalism which provides us with information from where we live. And what if we draw the circle even closer? To media content that indicates what is happening in our street? Directly in front of our doorstep, so to speak? Researchers at Ostfalia want to find out what these Location Based Services (LBS) can look like.

The Institute for Media Management focuses on the user and his or her expectations of location-based services. And it also focuses on the technologies: content reaches the addressees by way of digitally networked systems such as smartphones and apps. Which media offerings match the user’s taste and how information can be processed best are important research questions. Media literacy is also part of the investigation.

Providers of location-based services include trade and industry, culture and tourism. And the media providing their readers, listeners and viewers with information from their immediate environment. At the end of the project, the researchers want to uncover the basic success factors for the use and acceptance of Location Based Services. The research results are recommendations for the press, radio and online media showing them how they can align their offers in the future.

The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and runs until the year 2020. Project partner of Ostfalia is Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, among others.

 

Prof. Dr. Harald Rau, Institute for Media Management:

"What kind of location-based information services will future users be interested in? Location-based services offer an exciting field of research because we are dealing with a development that still lies in the future. Our ambition is to help shape this future and identify promising areas of application – for the providers of location-based services."

 

Florian Treiss, editor-in-chief of the technical service Location Insider:

"Most searches are carried out in a local context. This development opens up a great opportunity to achieve new revenue models with digital, mobile measures. For example, by offering real-time information tailored to young target groups."

 

Europe for Lower Saxony

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