Currently, I am continuing to explore the theoretical, empirical and epistemological fruitfulness of the concept of ambivalence. In particular, I try to adapt the concept to obtain a realistic analysis of the dynamics of intergenerational relations and their relevance and embedment in social structures. I am also interested in the applications and the theoretical foundations of the concept of ambivalence in other disciplines such as psychology, psychiatry and psychotherapy, political science and the study of literature. Furthermore, I attempt to investigate the field of "generational politics" and their ethical foundations.
I pursue these interests, drawing on my work on the following.
Generations – intergenerational relations – generational politics – intergenerational ambivalence
The concept of generation refers to individual and collective consciousness and respective identities. Intergenerational relations go together, in private life and in the society simultaneously with solidarity and conflict. This necessitates "generational politics" requiring social policies that deal with the interplay of programs and institutions for children and youth, families and the elder, as well as with concern or future generations. For the most recent activity see the multilingual compendium: https://edupad.uni-konstanz.de/generationes-v8bmkqNO1z-KN.
Ambivalence in general / General ambivalence
An elaborated definition of ambivalence emphasizes the experience of oscillating between autonomy and dependence, intimacy and distance, and even love and hate, as well as relevance of this experience for personal identity and consequently for human agency.
Stated in the form of a definition: The concept of ambivalence refers to a certain kind of experiences. They occur while we search for the significance of persons, social relationships and facts that are relevant for our identity and our agency, thereby oscillating between polar contradictions in feeling, thinking, wanting, or social structures, which appear to be temporarily or permanently unsolvable.
Dealing with ambivalences can be a burden, but can also generate innovative thoughts and actions. For many individuals, under the present social conditions the processes of constituting, developing and articulating the self, i.e. a dynamic personal identity, implies the experience of ambivalences. The reference to ambivalences is also an important topic in the social diagnostics of a “globalized postmodernity” and its contradictions. Psychotherapy has accumulated a rich stock of knowledge about the analysis of ambivalences and ways to deal with them. This wisdom can be used to stimulate the repeatedly claimed interdisciplinary discourses between psychotherapy and social, cultural and biological sciences. For this purpose a concept of human nature (“Menschenbild”), labelled “homo ambivalens” is proposed. This concept is to be thought of as a general heuristic orientation. It postulates not only the ability of human beings to experience and reflect ambivalences but also to judge them in an ambivalent way, namely as disturbances and burdens as well as possibilities for openness, creativity and freedom.
Sociology of the family and of family politics – family and law
In contemporary societies, there exists a diversity of private-life-forms. The widespread idealizing or deconstructing of "family rhetorics" are misleading. Families comprehend the chances to live reliable, enduring relations between generations and gender. The social conditions that favor the daily conduct of such relations, and enhance their potentials may serve as the reference point for modern family policies. Special attention should be paid to the social impact of legal regulations.
Children – childhood – policy for children and youth
Dealing with fundamental commonalities and differences between children and adults requires the social construction of social ecologies for human development. The UN-Convention for the Rights of Children provides guidelines for the organization of living conditions both for children and parents, with the goal of promoting participation and sustainability.
Socialization and education
Children learn from adults and vice versa, and both can learn together. In this way, they can – in successive generations – interpret, accept and enhance their social and cultural heritage. This may be conceived of as the core of a contemporary conceptualization of "generative socialization" that complements traditional socialization theory.
Media – effects of media – media policies
Media are influential through their contents, technologies, organization and commercialization, as well as by the modes of media usage. The concept of media-ecology may serve as a general frame of reference for a sociological analysis of the media, including ethical concerns.
My work appears in the context of sociology in general because the themes mentioned above refer to fundamental social institutions or – in the case of ambivalence – to a fundamental condition of human sociability. Two aspects have been given special attention: the sociological conception of time (following R.K. Merton) and the social reality of perspectives (with reference to G.H. Mead). In my efforts to understand these two ideas, references to art and music have proven fruitful.
Foto: Imago Press
Tel.: +41 31 348 13 10
Fax: +41 31 348 13 12
Lüscher, K. et al. (2017): Generationen. Ein mehrsprachiges Kompendium.
Lüscher, K. (2017): Großelternschaft: Facetten und Ambivalenzen.
Lüscher, K. (2016): Sozialisation und Ambivalenzen.
Lüscher, K./Haller, M. (2016): Ambivalenz in der Gerontologie.
Lüscher, K. (2016): Die Unergründlichkeit von Familie.
Lüscher, K./Liegle, Ludwig (2015): Generative Sozialisation.
Lüscher, K (2015): Ambivalenz. Robert Walser - Handbuch.
Lüscher, K. (2014): Richard F. Behrendt.
Lüscher, K. (2014): "Generationenprojekte - Generationendialoge" als Bildung.
Lüscher, K./ Fischer, H.R. (2014): Ambivalenzen bedenken und nutzen.
Lüscher, K. (2013): Das Ambivalente erkunden.
Lüscher, K. (2013): Intergenerational policy.
Lüscher, K./ Hoff, A. (2013): Intergenerational ambivalence.
Lüscher, K. (2012): Familie heute.
Lüscher, K. (2012): Musikalisches Improvisieren.
Lüscher, K. (2012): homines ambivalentes.
Lüscher, K. (2011): Improvisation: Spiel mit Ambivalenzen.
Lüscher, K. (2011): Ambivalenz weiterschreiben.
Lüscher, K. (2011): Ambivalence: A “Sensitizing Construct”.
Widmer, É./ Lüscher, K. (2011): Les relations intergénérationelles.
Lüscher, K. (2010): "Homo ambivalens".
Lüscher, K. (2010): Generationenpolitik.
Krappmann, L./ Lüscher, K. (2009): Kinderrechte.
Dietrich, W./ Lüscher, K./ Müller, Ch. (2009): Ambivalenzen erkennen, aushalten, gestalten.
Lüscher, K./Liegle, L. (2003): Generationenbeziehungen in Familie und Gesellschaft.