What does Digitalization have to do with Socio-Ecological Transformation?

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In our research group, we examine the social and environmental impacts of the provision and consumption of digital services. Six scientific research projects are being pursued. Research design combines the micro- and the macro-level. Four doctoral theses empirically determine how digitalization changes energy consumption (Environmental Engineering); changes consumption patterns (Psychology); enables sufficiency marketing (Sustainability Marketing) and is shaped by imagineries and future visions (Social Philosophy). These findings are integrated into post-doc and a professorship research projects. One (in Economics) examines how digitalization works to decouple natural consumption from economic growth and how market and income levels are affected. The other (in Sociology) will analyze how digitalization changes the pace of life, the processes of individualization and democratization, and how this social change affects societal metabolism.

We work out proposals for politics, sustainable business and civil society strategies, in particular how rebound effects can be limited and how sufficiency opportunities can be taken up in order to establish a more democratic and fair economy for the future.

Areas of Research

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The digitalization of services affects all economic sectors. In our research, we focus on three key areas: transport (‘smart mobility’), consumption (e-commerce) and housing (smart homes). In these areas, we will investigate, for example, whether and how consumer needs, marketing strategies or societal visions change as a result of digitalization, and what are the ecological and social consequences of this.