REMEP Research Agenda
In contemporary society, despite the dominance of the nation state in establishing and maintaining social order, other social actors are also effectively forming and upholding social order. At the same time, in the course of globalization with its worldwide dynamics of interaction, normative projections have to be co-coordinated within a global background. Moreover, the social agents that participate in the local process of social ordering are no longer acting on the local field alone but interacting with a multitude of others on the global level, and thus being exposed to new problems of governance and legitimacy. Research on these fundamental questions about social order within the Human Sciences section of the Max Planck Society is centered on specific scientific agendas with a wide scope such as to understand conflict and integration, the changing composition of society and processes of integration, or to explain the communal dimension of goods and the corresponding collective decision-making processes. The same holds true for many research activities carried out at the Universities. Yet, there are scientific problems shared by all these agendas that lie at the bottom of the fundamental question about social order and require theoretical groundwork. One of the main problems of such a cross-cutting nature is the relationship between retaliation, mediation and punishment (REMEP).
Theorizing Social Order
The scientific agenda of the IMPRS REMEP aims at theorizing on the basis of different disciplinary perspectives regarding REMEP and social order. By focusing on the conceptions, procedures and stereotypes of retaliation, mediation and punishment and their significance in establishing and maintaining social order, the IMPRS responds to the need for joint inquiries on cross-cutting problems common to many of the scientific fields that emerge out of the demand to explain an increasing complex world. At the same time, the IMPRS research focus contributes basic knowledge to the across-the-board question about how social order is operative in the emergent complexity of interaction worldwide. For this purpose, all disciplines involved in the IMPRS take as a joint starting point that retaliation, mediation and punishment have been developed everywhere and throughout history although with a different content and meaning. Consequently, the question of REMEP provides the condition for theoretical generalizations both in terms of time and space, thus establishing the necessary basis to understand at a global level a fundamental element of social order. This requires comparative work from the perspective of social and legal sciences as well as from corresponding historical research that traces back the role of REMEP in the processes of social ordering. With such an approach to a basic cross-cutting problem of social order that up to now has found few, if any, systematic interest, the scientific work in REMEP contributes to the related scientific agendas within the Human Sciences Section of the Max Planck Society and the corresponding research at the university level.
Three Fundamental Options for Action
Following on from this starting point, the scientific agenda of the Research School seeks to understand retaliation, mediation and punishment as a resource for social actors in establishing and maintaining order that has developed three fundamental options for action. Retaliation, mediation and punishment are understood broadly as normative elements of social ordering, rather than pertaining to a specific body of state law, although retaliation, mediation and punishment may be shaped by state law and its institutions. According to this concept, all the disciplines involved in the scientific agenda of the Research School start from the assumption of the plurality of forms in establishing and maintaining social order and of its corresponding social agents. In line with this, the disciplines analyze from their theoretical standpoint and with their methodological canon how the different social agents such as international organizations, the state, the church, non-governmental organizations, local communities, families and neighborhoods make strategic use of retaliation, mediation and punishment. Corresponding to this approach, research of the participating disciplines depicts specific functions of retaliation, mediation and punishment in the varying forms of interactions to establish and maintain social order, in terms of intensity and scope, time and space. This provides a fertile basis for comparative analysis about the relative significance of retaliation, mediation and punishment in establishing and maintaining social order.