Research profile

Phenomenology and Ontology of Social Systems

Since her dissertation (“Sociality as Human Condition”, Brill 2011), Prof Dr Klein has been researching into fundamental questions of ontology and phenomenology of social systems in an interdisciplinary perspective. In the process, she focuses on the question of the altruism to egoism ratio, a theory of emotions, and the socio-ethical relevance of the emotion “compassion”. At present, she is conducting research into the complex structures of physicality, pathos, and vulnerability in connection with a theory of care under the umbrella of an interdisciplinary, anthropological, and subject-theoretical research project.

“Embodiment” – main area of research in Bochum

Under the umbrella of the “embodiment” research field at the Faculty in Bochum, a hermeneutics of collective physicality is to be developed at the Chair in the years 2019-2024, with references to anthropological, dogmatic, and ecumenical questions of the embodiment of humans, God, and community.

Politics and Religion: Cultures of Sovereignty in the Modern and Late-Modern Era

Since her habilitation (“Attenuating Sovereignty”, Tübingen 2016), Prof Dr Klein has been researching into the relationship of religion and politics, as well as into political theories in the modern and late-modern era. Specifically, she is currently analysing the relationship of religion and democracy and the public political role of Christian churches. Phenomena such as populism, polarisation, and nationalism as well as cosmopolitan and universalistic visions of a democracy ‘without borders’ are at the heart of her research. The Chair is deeply interested in approaches of radical democracy theory and public theology. In this context, Prof Dr Klein collaborates in the “Chamber for Public Responsibility” at the Evangelical Church in Germany and in her own research groups.

Cultures of Difference: A Critical Theory of Ecumenism

From the point of view of cultural science, religions can be defined as imaginary communities that assert a shared reason of existence by creating myths, images, and narratives. The Christian cultures of denomination are characterised by the production and consumption of denominational identities with specific forms of embodiment of community (congregation, church, sacramental rituals, confessional statements). In ecumenical and inter-religious processes, these forms are transcended, in order to approach a shared identity and to relate to other denominations, religions, and cultures by following the mode of a communication-focused dialogue. Ecumenical processes can be initialised not only between denominational groups, but also reach out to groups with charismatic religiosity or even undenominational and agnostics forms of life. The research project investigates which critical and constructive potentials can be developed with regard to the future of ecumenism. First and foremost, normative questions are to be addressed: to what extent does ecumenism facilitate the opening of joint discourses across religions that are sensitive to both differences and plurality, and in what way can the success resp. failure of such an opening be determined?

Religion and Culture in the Late-Modern Era: Two Case Studies

This research project wishes to contribute to the interdisciplinary analysis of the relationship between religion and culture in the present age. The starting point therefore is the self-image of contemporary western societies who consider themselves “late modern”, in order to develop an up-to-date notion of cultural transformation processes as well as religious forms of life in the context of globalisation, inter-religiosity, and multi-culturalism. The interdisciplinary approach addresses two specific processes of a transformation of fundamental concepts in the western modern era. The first one is the late-modern decentralisation of self-referential notion of culture and identity, which is triggered by an interest in the phenomena of Otherness and of cultural hybridity. The second is the late-modern affirmation of the vulnerability of human life, which involves a deconstruction of the modern ideal of a rationally manageable and controllable life. The objective of the research project is to subject both late-modern discourses on injured life and decentralised identities to a detailed analysis with regard to cultural hermeneutics and theory of religion and to illustrate their implications for the public perception of religion and Christianity in the late-modern society.