Urban Systems

Among the researchers working in the field of Culture are representatives of the Humanities, Educational Sciences, the Institute of City Planning and Urban Design and other institutes, who are cooperating on various projects related to aspects of urban culture. In the context of their work, urban culture is divided into at least three major defining categories: 1) "Urban Culture", perceived as an ideal and the cultural expectations of an urban lifestyle of a democratic civic society; 2) "Cultures in Cities", defined as the diversity of lifestyles and cultures in cities; 3) "The Culture of a City", seen as the cultural uniqueness or "style" of a particular city.
The significance of urban culture to the city as an integrated system thus not only emerges from a city's instrumental value and its economic relevance as a major economic sector or a pull factor for an economic and academic elite; it also, and perhaps to a greater extent, emerges from its social and socio-psychological significance as a means of critically engaging with social, political and economic problems, of coming to terms with the accelerated pace of life and (over)complexity of life in big cities, and of negotiating individual and collective identity. In this context, urban culture is examined on three spatial levels: on the micro level, specific urban 'agents' are considered in their concrete urban environments; on the meso level, the city is examined as a system; on the macro level, the city is examined as a node within a global network. Applying a diverse range of methods, hypotheses and objects of study taken from various epochs and regions, and a range of examples from traditional to pop culture, researchers in this field are working to systematise the forms and functions of urban cultural practices and to document various mechanisms and phenomena in cultural transfer (such as McDonaldisation); they are also working on comparisons of different city cultures and on evaluating cultural practices in order to reconstruct and analyse urban spaces in previous eras and their relevance to present-day urban culture. In this process, the city is not merely a place but also the object of cultural practice; the fact that the city thematises itself has therefore become one of the central issues of research in this field.
An application to the German Research Foundation is currently being drafted for an interdisciplinary research group ("Strategies and Tactics of Urban Communication") with the aim of systematising and institutionally establishing humanities-oriented metropolis research within the scope of the Main Research Area.