Research Interests

Diplomacy, political violence, international security, trust, practice theory, qualitative methods

    On-going Projects


    Research Initiative "ConTrust: Trust in Conflict - Political Coexistence under Conditions of Uncertainty"

    (Funded by the Hessian Ministry of Science and Art, Academic Coordinator and Principal Investigator)

    Social conflicts are unavoidable, but they do not make it impossible for human beings to live together. But how can we be certain that conflicts will not escalate, that the other parties will abide by the rules, that institutions will protect us against transgressions and that the social world as a whole is sufficiently stable so that we can orient our actions in it in meaningful ways? The answer to these questions is trust. Trust creates a form of 'insecure security' that can never be fully redeemed and yet it holds the secret of social cooperation. But how is trust being formed, what are its sources?

    As a joint research between Goethe University and the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, ConTrust will adopt a different approach to the dominant trends in research on conflict and trust. Firstly, it is not based on the assumption that the notion of trust is opposed to that of conflict, but instead that trust only manifests itself, takes shape and demonstrates its value in conflict: trust in and through conflict. Secondly, the initiative aims to develop methodologies which transcend conventional disciplinary boundaries of research on trust and conflict, as well as the gulf separating empirical and normative analyses. Thirdly, the research of the initiative will frame the 'question of trust' as one that enquires into new qualities of uncertainty (and insecurity) which did not become apparent for the first time in the corona pandemic (but there especially). This includes reflection on the changing media in which trust and mistrust are communicated and constituted and conflicts are represented. Fourthly, in contrast to the majority of alternative approaches, its research will make it clear that the notion of trust should not be viewed in an exclusively positive light. Rather, trust can also assume authoritarian forms which are politically destructive and deny freedom. Finally, the project aims to draw practical conclusions concerning possibilities of shaping conflicts to promote productive ways of generating and stabilizing trust. Fostering dialogue with society is thus integral to our research.

    These assumption and intentions will inform our joint, interdisciplinary empirical and normative research on the dynamics of trust in central conflict situations, ranging from democratic structures to international politics, markets, discourses of knowledge and the media.

    Project homepage


    Prof. Dr. Tobias Wille

    Campus Westend
    Building "Normative Orders"
    Goethe University Frankfurt/Main
    Max-Horkheimer-Straße 2
    Mailbox EXC 9
    60323 Frankfurt am Main

    Room 1.16

    Tel: +49 (0)69 798-31465



    Administrative Office 

    Ilse Heck

    Campus Westend PEG-Building

    Goethe University Frankfurt/Main

    Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 6
    Mailbox PEG 19
    60323 Frankfurt am Main

    Room 3.G 182 (3. Floor)
    Tel:  +49 (0)69 798-36544