Georg-Simmel Center for Urban Studies

Research Groups


Urban Research Group: Urban Political

Urban Politzical is a podcast by Ross Beveridge and Markus Kip that delves into contemporary urban issues with activists, scholars and policy-makers from around the world.

Further information and all episodes can be found here.


Urban Research Group: NYLON Berlin / Einstein Research Group

The Einstein Research Group NYLON Berlin is the Berlin member of the international NYLON research network with counterparts based at New York University (NYU) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Our group is comprised of selected doctoral and postdoctoral researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development as well as Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Freie Universität, and Technische Universität Berlin. Ranging from urban planners to anthropologists, historians to geographers, sociologists to political scientists, the group investigates questions at the forefront of critical social theory.


In an atmosphere of trust and collaboration at weekly meetings, we collectively engage with close readings of theoretical texts and provide one another rich feedback on drafts of dissertation chapters, journal articles and conference presentations. In bringing new forms of text and representations to our individual and collaborative research, we put into practice our claims to develop critical and alternative epistemologies. In combination with external conferences, public events, joint publications, and other collaborations outside the university, we aim to make our academic work visible to wider audiences and in new platforms for public discourse. To ensure our group’s objectives, we have turned research funding from the Einstein Foundation Berlin into a peer-run initiative hosted by the Department of Social Sciences (Stadt- und Regionalsoziologie) at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. We collaborate closely with international colleagues from research institutions in New York City (NYU, Columbia University, Fordham, CUNY, New School for Social Research) and London (LSE, King's College, Goldsmith's), as well as Cambridge University and the University of Chicago.

More information:


Urban Research Group: New Urban Tourism


Tourism is making a much larger imprint on city life than ever before. This not only shows itself in terms of constantly growing numbers visiting tourist attractions and traditional “hot spots”, but also in the ever increasing new form of intensive tourism spilling into gentrified residential areas and neighborhoods adjacent to town centers not previously touched by tourism. This is breaking fresh ground.These so called new tourism areas are characterized by a complex “co-production and -consumption of urban space” by tourists and local inhabitants. This has led to previously unknown parallel uses of the city scape, as the potential for adventure, amusement and general exploration of the local topography is becoming stronger than ever ,resulting in a greater variety in the way that urban space is utilized. Local residents are becoming Airbnb-hosts, service providers or private tour guides.

Tourism, however, brings about a broader range of cultural activities and a more diverse restaurant trade due to increased demand. Simultaneously this creates conflicts between local residents and party-going tourists who are perceived as creating noise conflict. These and further phenomenon of co-production and -consumption „ of tourist“-locations raise numerous questions regarding Mobility Turns for interdisciplinary urban(tourism) research.

In order to focus the increasing research interest into the theme-complex of New Urban Tourism / Touristification / New Mobilities, a group of PhD students and Post-Docs developed to deal with these topics. In the process and in accordance with the philosophy of the Georg Simmel Center for Metropolitan Studies which explicitly strives to bring together diverse disciplinary and theoretical-conceptual perspectives. It is planned that publication proposals will be developed and implemented. It is also envisaged that a resulting expert conference should take place.

Further information can be found here.


Natalie Stors (Universität Trier), Luise Stoltenberg (Universität Hamburg), Christoph Sommer (Leibniz Universität Hannover), Claus Müller (TU Berlin), Nils Grube (TU Berlin), Thomas Frisch (Universität Hamburg), Florian Eggli (Hochschule Luzern/Universität Lausanne), Agnetha Bartels (Universität Hildesheim)


Urban Research Group: Urban Ethnography Lab

Researchers and practitioners from many fields have been adapting ethnographic research methods to suit the complex demands of contemporary urban settings. The Urban Ethnography Lab is an initiative by scholars from the University of Toronto’s Ethnography Lab and Humboldt University’s Georg Simmel Center for Metropolitan Studies and the Department of Social- and Cultural Geography from Humboldt-University of Berlin.

We are happy to continue building institutional links between departments and scholars that are interested in fostering an international and interdisciplinary network of labs dedicated to spreading the value of ethnographic and qualitative urban research.

The motivation for creating this partnership was to create a lab through which to promote ethnographic methods in the study of urban and metropolitan areas and increase its relevance in science and policy-making. The Urban Ethnography Lab is a growing centre that promotes ethnographic research methods, with a focus on urban areas, while the Georg-Simmel Center for Metropolitan Studies encourages the growth of international networks of academic groups focused on metropolitan research. On the basis, our long-term objectives have been identified as to:

  • Enhance ethnographic research methods at the intersection of urban anthropology, human geography and design.
  • Create opportunities for research on urban comparisons,
  • Promote the creation of a research network by facilitating the exchange of students and researchers internationally.


For further information and questions please contact Carolin Genz ( Further information can be found here


Urban Research Group: Work and the City: livelihood, inequalities and lifecourse transitions across the globe


Cities have always been places of economic activity and places where people come together to organise their livelihoods. While urban research often looks at urban economies from the perspective of companies, regional development and formal wage labour, our research group focuses on the everyday practices that city dwellers use to make ends meet and that "make" urbanity. We are interested in a broad spectrum of paid and unpaid activities, from classic wage labour to voluntary work and emotional labour. In particular, we look at transformations of such work arrangements and experiences of crisis (economic and health crises, precarisation/informalisation, digitalisation, blurring of work and non-work) and their effects on urban inequalities. We take a decidedly intersectional and life course-oriented perspective and examine, among other things, the role of work for the positioning of young people in the urban social fabric. Research from a wide range of urban contexts will be used to situate the relationship between work and the city at a global level.


Former Activities:

  • Katharina Knaus, Nina Margies & Hannah Schilling (2021) Thinking the city through work, City, 25:3-4, 303-314, DOI: 10.1080/13604813.2021.1939966
  • Research seminar „Forever Young? Precarity and Youth in Berlin“, Sommersemester 2017 im Rahmen des Q-Programms zum Forschenden Lernen des bologna.lab der HU
  • RC21 International Conference 2017, Leeds, UK Organisation des Panels „Global Urban Youth in the Midst of Precarization of Life: Towards the Formulation of New Claims For Social Justice“
  • RC21 International Conference 2017, Leeds, UK Organisation des Panels „Work and Cities: Debating new forms of work and employment and work organization in cities“

If you are interested or have any further questions, please contact: 
Hannah Schilling: hannah.schilling(at)

Nina Margies: nina.margies(at)


Student's Research Group


The aim of the Student (Urban) Research Group (SFG for the German name) is based on two principles. On one hand, the SFG offers students a space in which they can gather some research experience and expand their knowledge around methods of the social sciences. On the other hand, it is an instance to learn from and with each other. The SFG thus seeks to give students an opportunity to grow from a professional-academic and a pedagogical perspective.

The organization of the SFG is based on the Q-Tutorien/Teams of the bologna.lab, i.e. students conceive a project and carry it out on the basis of a self-chosen, research-oriented question. The project consists of seven phases:


1. topic identification

2. theoretical and methodological development

3. adjustments to the research design

4. data collection

5. data analysis

6. writing phase

7. publication of the results and presentation.


The SFG is open to all bachelor's and master's students.

Contact: (Nicolas Goez)