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Working Groups

Please see below for more information on the working groups of the SFB 1015.


WG 1 - Otium – Immersion – Flow – Trance – Experience

The working group deals with the structure of experiencing otium as well as with the description and analysis of associative, marginal phenomena of otium, such as immersion, flow or trance. These terms and their respective experiences are reflected through theoretical recourse from different disciplinary fields, for instance sociology, psychology or phenomenology. Our examination of these associative phenomena is based on the assumption that their experiential structure partly coincides with those of otium. For a concrete instance, we are analyzing to what extent can the transgressive character of otium and its related experience of freedom, the absence of temporal constraints and performative expectations play a role in experiencing immersion, flow or trance. Moreover, the experience of alternative spatiality is often involved in the experiential structure of these associative phenomena. Their respective deviations from and differences to otium, are equally significant. Eventually, these analyses can aid towards specifying the definitive concepts of otium. Methodologically, we are particularly engaged with the question how experiences are subsumable, scientifically. In doing so, we firstly discuss different conceptual approaches of the term ‘experience’ - as empirical knowledge (in German: Erfahrung) or experience in the sense of an ‘enjoyable experience’, and thereby with the description of specific, singular and/or unusual incidents (in German: Erlebnis). Our question aims to further analyze the specific potentials that lie in the term of ‘experience’, for the empirical, discourse analytical and hermeneutically oriented analyses of otium. The sources on which our discussion of these associative phenomena are based, cover a wide spectrum, including artistic representations, historical accounts, as well as empirical data.


WG 2 - Semanctics of Otium

The working group Semantics of Otium asks how ‘otium’ is semanticized and lexicalized in different languages and literatures and what kind of relevance these semantics have for their particular cultural orders. Following these basic questions, it is to be examined whether a certain language has a lexical meaning for ‘otium’ and how the lexemes of ‘otium’ are adjusted to word fields in many languages. It becomes imperative to question, in the course of historical comparisons, possible changes of otium-lexemes within the various literatures that are examined. The aim of the working group Semantics of Otium is not to be an isolated and solely etymological or lexicographical research, but rather, to process an investigation of communicative allegory processes depending on their historical contexts based on historical semantics. The key proposition of the CRC1015 is to examine the ambivalence of otium in its particular cultural semanticization through various interdisciplinary from the perspectives of the many subprojects. The aim is to combine a cross-section of the subprojects with a comparative perspective on the facets of relative freedom from time constraints and the possibilities of creative implementation within these.


WG 3 - Urbanity and Otium

The working group on urbanity and otium will deal with current approaches to urban research and theoretical texts on urban studies. We will discuss historical developments as well as current debates on the logic of cities (Helmuth Berking / Martina Löw) and the future of the city. In a second step, we aim to introduce our results to the CRC’s transdisciplinary research programme. Which spatial structures favour or complicate experiences of otium? The working group will pay special attention to the interferences of urban structures, urban spaces and otium as well as to the specific patterns of perception and reflection of those who experience leisure, in whatever form, in the city. In addition to their respective specific architectural design, we consider cities as places of social practice (e.g. of the flâneur) and symbolic forms (e.g. consumer society), the interdependencies of which we will discuss'. The working group will also pick up on the guiding concepts of the three project areas: Borders (project area G) play a central role in the sense that otium in cities is often experienced as transgression: in the tension between dispersion and concentration, between bustle and tranquillity. The dominant category for our purposes is chronotopes (project area R), as we discuss for temporal structures of experiences of otium in urban space as well as of specific spaces within the city. And finally, urban spaces, in Henri Lefèbvre’s sense, are both prerequisites and results of social practices (project area P). In this respect, the differentiation between spatial practices, representations of space and spaces of representation also forms a theoretical approach whose viability for the connection between urbanity and otium we will examine.



WG 4 - Nature and Otium

Due to start work in 2018


WG 5 - Modifications of Otium through Cultural Transfer

Due to start work in 2019


WG 6 - Otium and Science

Occidental concepts of science is closely linked to the term otium. However, this connection is by no means definite. Instead it is, at least since the modern orientation towards experimental and empirical methods, quite problematic. Whereas science has to comply within an economic and political benefit calculus, it is visibly in conflict with the ideals of independent research and learning that implicitly or explicitly harks back to the classical concepts of otium. It is of no doubt that a scientific ideal which is in adherence to otium is in contradiction to the ideals of business of science. Even under optimal conditions, the basic requirement of academic science which states that otium should institutionalize free spaces of contemplation and creativity, is paradoxical and counterproductive to begin with. This tenseness between the principles of otium and science is examined in the Research Group. In doing so, the participants’ research on otium and the various preconditions will be explicitly reflected. For this purpose, the interdisciplinary context of the CRC can provide a particularly dynamic platform which identifies the different scientific self-conceptions of the contributing disciplines and helps bring them towards a productive conversation.