Prof. Dr. Christian von Scheve
I am Professor of Sociology and Head of the Research Group „Sociology of Emotion“ at Freie Universität Berlin. I am a member of the Executive Board of the Collaborative Research Center „Affective Societies“ (SFB 1171) and Research Fellow at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin).
What I find exciting about this research initiative
Social cohesion is a much-debated concept, in scientific discourse as well as in policy-oriented debates. What is often neglected in talk about social cohesion is that it needs to be enacted and performed in specific situations and concrete social encounters. Cohesion is not just an abstract property of groups and societies, but is fundamentally rooted in how people engage and interact with each other. In the contemporary world, civil society is a space where such encounters take-place in a way that is immediately tied to pertinent social issues that cleavages that have wide-ranging implications for society at large. Investigating the interaction dynamics in civil society from the multi- and transdisciplinary perspective taken in this initiative therefore promises a better understanding of how cohesion is created and undermined in society.
What my discipline can contribute to this research initiative
Sociology has a long tradition of researching the principles of social cohesion in the modern world, dating back to Emile Durkheim’s analyses of the different forms of solidarity in relation to the division of labor. Specifically, works in this tradition bring-up the question of how different groups in society relate to each other in producing or disrupting cohesion. Recent advances in this tradition have increasingly emphasized the importance of micro-social encounters, for example in gatherings and rituals, and suggested how solidarity and cohesion can be understood as outcomes of situated interaction processes. Here, factors such as shared emotions, behavioral convergence, and rhythmic entrainment, in conjunction with symbols and language, are likely to play an essential role.
Five key publications
Fuchs, L.M., Jacobsen, J., Walther, L., Hahn, E.,Ta, T.M.T., Bajbouj, M., von Scheve, C. (2021). The Challenged Sense of Belonging Scale (CSBS)—a validation study in English, Arabic, and Farsi/Dari among refugees and asylum seekers in Germany. Measurement Instruments in the Social Sciences, 3(3), DOI: 10.1186/s42409-021-00021-y
Schauenburg, G., Conrad, M., von Scheve, C., Barber, H.A., Ambrasat, J., Schröder, T. (2019). Making sense of social interaction: Emotional coherence drives semantic integration as assessed by event-related potentials. Neuropsychologia, ePub ahead of print, doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2019.01.002
Salmela, M., von Scheve, C. (2018). Emotional dynamics of right- and left-wing political populism. Humanity & Society, 42(4), 434-454.
von Scheve, C., Ismer, S., Kozlowska, M., Solms-Baruth, C. (2017). Rituals, emotional entrainment and national identification: A cross-national study around the European Football Championship. Comparative Sociology, 16(5), 585–612.
von Scheve, C., Salmela, M. (Eds.)(2014). Collective Emotions. New York: Oxford University Press.