New publication: Circular Economy and the social-ecological crisis

As part of the Publication Series Sustainability (Schriftenreihe Nachhaltigkeit) of the Hessische Landeszentrale für Politische Bildung, the volume “Kreislaufwirtschaft – ein Ausweg aus der sozial-ökologischen Krise” (Circular Economy – A Way Out of the Social-Ecological Crisis), written by OHA members Melanie Jaeger-Erben and Florian Hofmann, was published. With a critical perspective on current systems of consumption and production, the volume attempts to illuminate concepts of the circular economy with regard to their potential for social-ecological transformation. The one-sided focus on economy and technology is critically discussed and the future scenario of a Circular Society is outlined, including concepts of social sustainability and justice.

PDFSchriftenreihe NACHHALTIGKEIT Heft 5 (PDF, 1930 KB)

OHA on May 9, 6 p.m. at the Hybrid Talks XXXV Berlin on the topic “Transience”

The Hybrid Talks invite mutual inspiration and networking. Representatives of different disciplines meet and illuminate the topic of “transience” from their own perspective in short presentations of 10 minutes each. The exchange across the boundaries of individual disciplines will continue in a relaxed atmosphere following the presentations.

The Hybrid Talks are an event format of the Hybrid Platform, the cross-disciplinary project platform on the Charlottenburg Campus.

Melanie Jaeger-Erben will give a short presentation on Thursday, 09 May 2019, 6 p.m. on the topic “Obsolete. The social de/construction of the devalued”. The event will take place at the Hybrid Lab, TU Berlin, Marchstraße 8, 10587 Berlin.

Further information can be found here.

New article: Circular business models: Business approach as driver or obstructer of sustainability transitions?

Circular Business Models are proclaimed by political institutions, multinational companies, management consulting firms and parts of the scientific community as a promising and attractive business concept to actively meet the challenges of the Anthropocene, such as climate change, loss of biodiversity and scarcity of natural resources. It is argued that Circular Business Models contribute to the holistic and radical restructuring of entrepreneurial value creation logics, which have the potential to establish a mutually influential system of sustainable production and nature-conserving consumption. Can Circular Business Models indeed be described as “holistic” and “radical”, especially against the background of the profound structural and paradigmatic social changes that appear indispensable if economic activities are to be organized in such a way that they do not cross planetary boundaries?

Go to journal home page - Journal of Cleaner Production

The article by Florian Hofmann is a methodologically guided reflection of the scientific literature on Circular Business Models.

The article can be viewed and downloaded here free of charge until 17 May.


Hofmann, Florian (2019): Circular business models: Business approach as driver or obstructer of sustainability transitions? Journal of Cleaner Production 224 (2019), 361 – 374.

New article: Interdisciplinary Perspective on Modular Smartphones and their Life Cycle Assessment

Modular electronic products are often referred to as a strategy to promote long service lives, greater product commitment, and lower resource consumption. The article by Marina Proske and Melanie Jaeger-Erben in the “Journal of Cleaner Production” uses the example of a smartphone to look at various potential modularity concepts at a glance: their functionalities, their influGo to journal home page - Journal of Cleaner Productionence on the human-object relationship and their Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). It combines engineering and social science perspectives.

The contribution can be downloaded here until 8 May free of charge.

Proske/ Jaeger-Erben (2019). Decreasing obsolescence with modular smartphones? – An interdisciplinary perspective on lifecycles, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 223, Pages 57-66,

OHA meets COG – Component Obsolescence Group

On September 25, the junior research group Obsolescence organized an expert discussion on the topic of discontinuation of electronic assemblies, which was attended by over 100 industry representatives, most of whom are organized in the Component Obsolescence Group.

While obsolescence has been brought into society and discussed in recent years, particularly in the media through aspects such as planned obsolescence or planned wear and tear, today it is the leading technology media that are including the phenomenon of obsolescence in their headlines. After all, the standards in electronics are now set by consumer electronics and no longer by automotive engineering. As a manufacturer of capital goods in particular in the fields of automotive engineering, medical technology and plant and mechanical engineering, Germany is dependent on parts from suppliers from all over the world. If the supply stops, production stops. The greatest challenges German companies face today include the service and repair of products. But also for ongoing production, components are becoming increasingly unavailable and solutions must be found quickly, which are increasingly left unsolved at national and European level. Problems arise in particular with active components that can calculate or store, and with displays. Driven by various factors, changes are made to components every year, leading to the discontinuation of current production. The problems, which have so far only been discussed in the B2B (business-to-business) sector, are increasingly turning into an environmental problem, as a circular economy is impeded. Repair, reuse, refurbishment and remanufacturing are only possible in a circular society if components are made available on a long-term basis to restore functions. Almost all industry representatives filled out an online questionnaire after the technical discussion, which is currently being evaluated by the research group in order to better understand obsolescence in the B2B sector.


OHA at the Bits & Trees Conference on November 17 and 18, 2018 in Berlin

On 17 and 18 November, the conference „Bits & Bäume“ will take place at the Technical University of Berlin, addressing the different scenes, actors, organisations and interfaces in the discourse on sustainability and digitisation. It will examine the key question of how digitisation can contribute to the socio-ecological transformation of society and especially the economy. Florian Hofmann and Jakob Zwiers (Institute for Future Studies and Technology Assessment) offer a creative workshop at “Bits & Trees” entitled “Circular Society – A pluralistic and emancipatory alternative to the circular economy”. After a short introduction, together with the participants the workshop will develop, discuss and reflect on elements of a Circular Society in order to design a vision of a democratic, digital as well as sustainable society based on the idea of circularity.


Obsolescence and metamorphosis. A public dialogue between Florian Hofmann and artist Markus Keibel.

On 24.09.2018 Florian Hofmann and the visual artist Markus Keibel conducted a public dialogue on the subject of obsolescence and metamorphosis. The two artists’ main areas of work and interest overlap in the overarching subject of the inevitable constant change of artifacts, structures and systems. Markus Keibel’s work deals with the constant changeability of thoughts, actions and matter, while Florian Hofmann researches changes in organisational value creation systems in the context of a socio-ecological transformation. The two discussed the possibilities and impossibilities of a systematic transformation of the economic, the role the visual arts can play in this, and whether and to what extent art and science can or should have a transformative effect on economy and society.

The discussion took place in the context of an exhibition of Markus Keibel’s current works at the Hotel “Alexander Plaza” in Berlin.

Transformative Research: From Programme to Practice – New Publication

What role does science play in sustainable development? Should scientists observe, support or specifically shape a social-ecological transformation? The term “transformative science” is the subject of a lively debate in the journal GAIA. The head of the research group Melanie Jaeger-Erben, together with other sustainability researchers, writes a plea for a more intensive observation and (scientific) theoretical description of the practice in real-life-laboratories and others.

Jaeger-Erben, Melanie & Nagy, Emilia & Schäfer, Martina & Süßbauer, Elisabeth & Zscheischler, Jana. (2018). Von der Programmatik zur Praxis: Plädoyer für eine Grounded Theory transformationsorientierter Forschung. GAIA – Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society. 27. 117-121. Download.

Lecture at the Leuphana University Lüneburg by OHA

On June 6, 2018 Tamina Hipp will give a lecture in the context of the SuCo2 event series at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg. Under the title “Always the latest or maintaining the usual – How do short and long useful lives of electronic devices come about?” the OHA member will present the current status of her dissertation. Based on the collected data material, types of practical forms were modelled which describe how the useful life – coupled to specific settings – is produced. This enables a differentiated perspective on the consumption of electronic products that goes beyond victim-perpetrator stereotypes.

Further information on the event can be found on the homepage: