Leuphana-Researchers successful with Projects on Digital Change

2021-02-16 Lüneburg/Hanover. Prof. Dr. Armin Beverungen and Prof. Dr. Volker Kirchberg, two researchers from the Institute of Sociology and Cultural Organisation, Faculty of Cultural Studies at Leuphana University Lüneburg, have been successful with their project proposals on digital change and have acquired funding totalling almost 1.2 million euros. This has now been announced by the Volkswagen Foundation and the Lower Saxony Ministry for Science and Culture. Beverungen is looking at the question of how logistics companies like Amazon are changing our cities. Kirchberg is investigating the economic and symbolic creation of value from personal data in the market and society. A total of 14 projects are being funded that deal with the question of how digitalisation is changing our society.

For Armin Beverungen, it is clear that Amazon, as the world's largest online retailer, is at the forefront of a logistical revolution in retail that is changing urban spaces. His research project "Automating the Logistical City: Space, Algorithms, Speculation" will systematically investigate for the first time what impact Amazon's logistical activities have on the city. Three sub-studies will focus on how Amazon's approach changes the characteristics and relationships of urban space, how Amazon's algorithmic management coordinates data, people and things, and what outlook Amazon's patents give on automated future scenarios of logistical cities. Two research assistants will be hired for the three-year project.

An analysis of the creation of value from personal data, which is often readily offered in an increasingly digitalised world and is thus available en masse, is the focus of Volker Kirchberg's project "Commodified Agency: Social Space and the Digital Data Value Chain". He works in a team with professors Ulf Brefeld and Ulf Wuggenig and research assistant Cheryce von Xylander. The researchers are interested in the voluntary and actual paradoxical submission of users to a digital power that contradicts their own enlightened interests. One thematic focus of the project is the music industry, which is now working with particularly advanced methods of digital data research and valorisation in order to make the streaming medium profitable, for example. This project is also scheduled to run for three years.

The call for proposals "The Digital Society: Researching Developments, Developing Perspectives, Using Digital Methods and Data" was mainly aimed at researchers in sociology, political science, economics, law, psychology and educational research. An independent scientific commission reviewed the applications and determined the projects selected for funding.