Besides the core issues of International Relations, the subject group International and Intersocietal Relations focuses on two major areas of study:
One major focus is North-South relations including different transnational actors in this field. Since the end of the Cold War, North-South relations have developed into an important axis of conflict in the present international system. The boomerang-effects of economic competition, weak states, migration, natural disasters, terrorism and asymmetric wars, mean that global inequality is no longer confined to the South but becomes a prime problem for the North as well. A productive engagement with these global asymmetries calls for an approach that not only addresses the social and ecological dimensions of globalization but which also considers the prospective issue of democratizing international politics; always bearing in mind that critical reflection of Western concepts and terms are necessary. Besides the epistemological interest in the shifting world-system, research will also identify potentials for political interventions that contribute to a sustainable political and social balance between North and South.
A second empirical as well as theoretical focus is reseach on social inequality and participation using the example of Latin America. Latin America shows the highest rates of social inequality worldwide. Moreover, inequality has, in many cases, actually increased under democratic regimes. To understand the disturbing persistence of inequality, various research projects of the subject group explore how international factors as well as local social and labour policies reduce, reproduce or even aggravate social inequalities. Along with empirical research into the current reform processes within social and labour policies in Latin America, current research also points to conditions for and barriers to success of policies which aim to reduce social inequalities, fragmentation and precarization. Research of the subject group aims thereby not only to shed light on these issues in Latin America but also to produce more generally applicable knowledge about the opportunities and limits of social and labour policies outside the OECD-world. Not at least, its conceptual considerations seek to inform political interventions designed to reduce social inequalities around the world.