Dramas of Decision-Making

Summer Term 2024

From everyday life to the ›path of life‹: decisions are incisions in time that regularly become turning points in an individual’s life. Without decisions, people are not viable. Beyond the individual, decisions are communicative acts that follow cultural, institutional and political rules. These rules determine what is considered a decision, how it is discussed and, above all, who can make decisions and under what conditions. Decisions are therefore neither an everyday occurrence, nor is it self-evident that people make decisions. Decisions are the result of their social production and thus a form of social action that changes historically and fundamentally determines the self-image of modern communities as »Entscheidungsgesellschaften« (Uwe Schimank).

However, decisions repeatedly face the problem of their justification in the face of limited resources on the one hand and a (quantitative) increase in decision-making processes in the course of »reflexive modernization« (Ulrich Beck) on the other. Decisions can be understood as a weighing up of possible courses of action that helps to determine and justify an end in the face of a multitude of possible outcomes. In addition to the eventfulness of decisionism, the temporal dimension of decision-making processes is what comes into focus here. The ongoing political crises of the present day in particular show a dramatization of such decision-making processes, the outcome of which cannot be ›certain‹ and in which the slowness of democratic procedures increasingly encounters the demand for decisive action.

In the summer semester 2024, the Mosse Lectures will explore decisions as a cultural, social and political practice: Under what conditions are decisions made and what must be presupposed so that we can perceive and name a decision as such? How have decisions been culturally framed and metaphorized, which myths and narratives turn actors into ›decision-makers‹ and institutions into places of decision? What role does chance play in decision-making processes? How do decisions change in their conditions and limits when they are increasingly delegated to digital technologies? And finally, how can the refusal to make decisions be understood as decisive protest and political resistance?

PLEASE NOTE: The Mosse Lectures will return to their traditional venue this summer semester 2024 and will take place in the new Senatssaal of Humboldt University (Unter den Linden 6). The room is barrier-free accessible.



The MOSSE-LECTURES at the Humboldt University in Berlin are a cooperation of: