Schaderpreis winner 2023: Steffen Mau
Image: Marie-Luise Kolb
A highly flammable politics of trigger points: It is often said that our society is constantly embroiled in culture wars. The sociologist Steffen Mau counters this empirically, not without political risk.
When Steffen Mau says: “As a sociologist, I’m a myth hunter”, then he also has a refreshing media-critical punchline. Mau explained in an interview with “Zeit”: “As a sociologist, I make the wrong conclusion when I derive from talk shows, editorials or Twitter how divided society is.” Receipt of this year’s Schader Prize in Darmstadt.
Most of the arguments, as he explains in the lecture, do not take place between irreconcilable camps that start from completely different goals (e.g. in the idea of intellectually and materially wealthy cosmopolitans versus correspondingly less well-off communitarians), but about the many “yes-buts”, associated with specific political projects. The professor of macrosociology at Berlin’s Humboldt University believes that the assumption of camp formations separated by deep cultural rifts, as advocated by his Berlin guild colleague Wolfgang Merkel, is wrong, albeit only “ideally typical”, as the salvatory word with which Merkel describes his socio-political “No, because” descriptions from empirical criticism. Mau does not allow such assurances that when in doubt not to mean things too seriously.