2013 - The ‘In-Between Society’: Tradition and Modernism in Conflict

Karlsruher Dialogues

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Our times are fluid and confusing. This ‘disorder’ and the handling of a modern world in perpetual change – a ‘liquid modernity’ in the words of the socioligist Zygmunt Bauman – were the main focus of the 16th Karlsruhe Dialogues. This year’s Karlsruhe Dialogues enlarge on this and focus on the dialectic forces and the tensions of an ‘in-between society’. The balance between tradition and modernism is questioned.

The global dialectics of tradition and modernism, of state and market, of global and ( g) local developments, of the sovereign and its representatives, cause new collective, as well as highly divergent, power constellations and cultural orientations. Intensified by social media, the global arena puts traditional values, local everyday routines and worldwide accepted social norms to the test. This harbours the danger of polarisation: the ‘inbetween society’ has proven to be vulnerable to extremism and radical action, to ideology and simplified problem attribution. The fragile ‘social contract’ of democratic states has not only seemingly lost its dependability due to the unfathomable financial markets, but comes increasingly under pressure in the context of social change. Traditional values and social models are now being discussed anew, and universally accepted values are called into question under a cultural relativistic view. Geopolitical conflicts and cultural differences that were thought to be overcome are once again on the agenda of world politics.

The 17th Karlsruhe Dialogues will examine the sociological, economic, social, and genderspecific aspects of current collective developments characteristic for the ‘inbetween society’. Renowned scientists and representatives of public life and interest will discuss which new possibilities of action and local perspectives of globalisation and ‘glocalisation’ (Roland Robertson) may be imagined or even realised, how social movements can lend dynamics to social processes and what ultimately consolidates our society. Are there new ways which guarantee citizens their individual freedom on the basis of simultaneous participation and responsibility? What contribution can an international civil society make to this? What are the possibilities of achieving a peaceful and social coexistence of different societies and cultures on the global and (g)local level?

Initiator and Scientific Convenorship:
Prof. Dr. Caroline Y. Robertson-von Trotha
Director of ZAK

Rubina Zern M.A., Christine Melcher Dipl.-Angl.

German Program 





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