Socio-Ecological Transformation

Digitalization and Socio-Ecological Transformation Research Group

2016 – 2022

How does digitalization impact socio-ecological transformation?

Machines, products and people are becoming increasingly networked with information technology. Will this lead to a smart green world where we will all benefit from technological progress and treat the environment more carefully? Or are we heading towards a digital growth economy where power and wealth are in the hands of just a few people and the economy continues to expand beyond planetary boundaries?

The Digitalization and Socio-Ecological Transformation Research Group investigates the opportunities and risks of digitalization for reducing energy and resource consumption and develops approaches for shaping digitalization politically and socially so that it contributes to the necessary transformation of society toward sustainability. This will be achieved through four dissertations and two habilitations. The research design brings together both the micro and macro levels. The dissertation projects examine empirically how digitalization is shifting energy consumption (engineering), altering how we consume (psychology), changing marketing strategies (sustainability marketing), and which visions of the future dominate (sociology/social philosophy). The findings of these dissertations are then taken up and integrated in two habilitations. One is in economics and examines how digitalization affects the decoupling of natural consumption from growth and market and income concentrations. The other is in sociology and analyzes how digitalization is changing the speed at which we live and the processes of individualization and democratization as well as the impact this social change has on consumption.

The approaches to action and governance proposals developed provide insights into how to limit rebound risks, seize sufficiency opportunities, and promote a democratic and fair economy.

Fields of action

The digitalization of services affects all areas of the economy. Our research focuses on three key areas: Mobility (networked mobility), consumption/nutrition (e-commerce) and housing (smart homes). Using examples, we will examine whether and how consumer needs, marketing strategies and social models are changing in these areas as a result of digitalization and what ecological and social impacts this has.

Members of the research group

  • Maike Gossen, TU Berlin Chair of Socio-Ecological Transformation

  • Johanna Pohl, TU Berlin Chair of Socio-Ecological Transformation

  • Vivian Frick, TU Berlin Zentrum Technik und Gesellschaft and Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IöW)

  • Josephin Wagner, Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW)

  • Dr. Steffen Lange, Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW)

  • Friederike Rohde, Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW)

  • Manuel Brümmer, Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW)

You can find further information about the project here. Follow us on our Twitter channel to keep up to date.