Jun.-Prof. Dr. Ulf Tranow

Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf

Ulf Tranow

Communitisation and Conflict in Digital Space from a Ritual-Theoretical Perspective

How do (polarised) political identities form on the internet? How does digital conflict mobilisation take place? How does conflict escalate on the internet? Within the framework of the project, these questions will be addressed from a ritual-theoretical perspective. Rituals are focused and rhythmically coordinated social interactions that have the potential to build solidarity, moral sentiments and collective symbols. Ritual theories offer an understanding of the interrelationship between community building and conflict. Since they refer to face-to-face interactions and ascribe particular importance to physical co-presence, the question is open to what extent digital interactions can also be understood as rituals. Empirical studies point in the direction that this is possible, but so far there is no theory of digital interaction rituals. The aim of this project is to transfer Randall Collins’ theory of interaction rituals to the digital sphere and to derive hypotheses from it in connection with the questions listed above.

Research focus

  • Solidarity and conflict
  • Political integration
  • Social norms
  • Theories of action

Curriculum Vitae

  • Since 2013: Junior Professor of Sociology, HHU Düsseldorf
  • 2010: PhD “The concept of solidarity: action-theoretical foundation of a sociological key concept”, HHU Düsseldorf
  • 2004 – 2013: Research assistant, HHU Düsseldorf
  • 2002 – 2004: Collaboration in the project “Interpretation of global climate change by the public”, FZ Jülich


  • Tranow, U. & A. Schnabel (2019). Solidarity and the welfare state: Theoretical perspectives and empirical questions. In D. Baumgartner & B. Fux (Eds.), Sozialstaat unter Zugzwang? Between reform and reorientation (pp. 19-42). Wiesbaden: Springer.
  • Tranow, U. (2019). Solidarity as a System of Norms. In J. Althammer, B. Neumärker & U. Nothelle-Wildfeuer (Eds.), Solidarity in Open Societies (pp. 25-56). Wiesbaden: Springer VS.
  • Tranow, U. (2018). Context as an analytical concept from the perspective of an actor-centred sociology. In M. Reddig, A. Schnabel & H. Winkel (Eds.): Religion in context. A handbook of sociology of religion (pp. 23-44). Baden-Baden: Nomos.
  • Escher, T., Frieß, D., Esau, K., Sieweke, J., Tranow, U., Dischner, S., Hagemeister, P., & Mauve, M. (2017). Online Deliberation in Academia: An Evaluation of Quality and Legitimacy of Cooperatively Developed University Regulations. Policy & Internet, 9(1), 133-164.
  • Tranow, U.; T. Beckers & D. Becker (2016). Explaining and Understanding by Answering ‘Why’ and ‘How’ Questions: A Programmatic Introduction to the Special Issue Social Mechanisms, Analysis & Critique. Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory, 38(1), 1-29.

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Ulf Tranow

Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf

Fellow at CAIS from October 2019 until February 2020