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Research Units

We study contestations, their causes, and their consequences by putting together four Research Units (RU) focusing on specific issues each script has to address: Borders, Orders, (Re-)Allocation and Temporality. The four RUs investigate who is contesting what, which factors drive these contestations, and what the effects of the contestations are. Each RU consists of multidisciplinary research teams, systematically cutting across disciplinary and epistemic boundaries.

Borders

Borders determine who belongs to a group or society and who can be legitimately excluded. Paradoxically, the liberal script both grants the nation state the control over its borders while also constraining it from doing so, for such an act in turn contradicts the idea of personal and economic freedom and mobility.

Orders

Orders refer to the institutional core of the liberal script, which enables political and social coordination within a given society. It involves institutional arrangements that set the rules of the game through concepts such as globalization, human rights, representative democracy, and a market economy. This research unit will thus deal with contestations such as whether statehood, based on the monopoly over violence, should provide the basis of political order or whether democratic procedures can actually lead to equality via individuals’ political choices.

(Re-)Allocation

For the (re-)allocation of goods and life chances, liberal scripts involve rules and goals in the face of social and material scarcities. The liberal script assigns the free market as the key mechanism of allocation, which invariably results in uneven outcomes. Welfare states attempt to reduce inequalities via, for instance, progressive taxation.

Temporality

Understandings of temporality and of progress provide information on time scales, imaginations of transience and eternity, and the reproduction of social structure. Time in the liberal view moves linearly toward a future of progress, and it presumes that rational actors optimally allocate time to market and non-market activities.