The research focus of the group is on community, culture and emerging forms of sociality and social organization, mostly (but not exclusively) in a Danish context. Community can be defined broadly as associational affiliations that mediate between individuals and the larger society beyond the primary ties of the family, whereas sociality refers to the multiple ways in which people assemble, communicate and form networks, places and societies. In recent decades local (place-bound) and wider communities and ways of assembling have changed in diverse and complex ways. Many of these changes have practical and political implications in terms of infra-structural challenges, new population patterns and regional development, state-citizen relations, the challenges of integration and xenophobia etc. Keeping the finger on the pulse of societal developments, the research group members study how place-bound identities, everyday life and different kinds of civic engagement as well as interactions in institutional/professional settings relate to wider contexts. These contexts include globalisation, new policies and new forms of governance, changes in the structures of the welfare state, digitalisation and, not least, the influx of immigrants and other demographic changes such as depopulation and migration between urban and rural areas. Much of the research done by the group members is relevant for and contributes to specific policy areas, such as rural, social and digitalisation policies.
A substantial part of the research activities of the group focuses on the span between informal everyday life interaction and the organised civil society, referring broadly to organisations and other forms of social cooperation that are placed in the public sphere but operating outside of (although sometimes in close cooperation with) the governmental and for-profit sectors. Members of the research group address a range of everyday life and civil society related topics such as power and territorialisation, volunteering, associational life and festivals, local action groups and regional development, local councils and local democracy, public-private cooperation and co-creation in solving public problems, policies and discourses that impact civil society and everyday life etc. In close relation to the study of these topics, the research group also pays careful attention to the importance of civic participation in terms of place attachment, cultural and communal identities, regional development and general well-being.
The approaches used in studying these topics are diverse, and members of the research group address a wide range of theoretical and conceptual issues related to community, culture and sociality, such as social capital and trust, social movement theory, place attachment and perceptions of nature, cultural values and locally embedded resources, co-creation (for instance between voluntary and public sectors), territorialisation and configurations of the senses, techno-social configurations, digitalisation and its impact on sociality and culture.
The sociology research group is closely aligned with the transdisciplinary Danish Centre of Rural Research at SDU, with several researchers participating actively in both research environments, and the research activities of the sociology group do to some extent, but not exclusively, have a rural focus.
The diversity of topics and perspectives that characterises the work of the group readily lends itself to methodological pluralism, and in many cases research projects involve a mixed-methods approach. Commonly used methods include surveys, semi-structured interviews, sensory ethnography, participant observation, document analysis, interventions and (historical) source critical method. The research group has an open and inclusive approach to various disciplines and methods within the sociological field, and researchers frequently engage in cross-disciplinary work.