Michael Guggenheim

Michael works with different media to produce theoretical texts regarding civil protection and participatory politics.

Staff details

Michael Guggenheim






m.guggenheim (@gold.ac.uk)



Michael Guggenheim has studied in Zürich and Berlin, and obtained a PhD in Sociology in 2005 from the University of Zürich.  Prior to coming to the UK, Michael worked and researched in Budapest, Vienna, Montreal, and Berlin. Michael has taught both artists at art schools and natural scientists at technical universities, which has informed his understanding of how to teach sociology and how it can be used to intervene in the world. He has always found it important to work and experiment with different media and produce both theoretical texts but also visual and sensory works.

Michael's work thus far has been defined by different yet connected themes relating to the relationship between experts and lay people, the role of objects for this relationship and on methodical and theoretical innovation derived from the combination of science studies with sociological theory. Michael was the lead PI on the ERC-funded project "Organising Disaster: Civil Protection and the Population", which looked at how disaster experts conceive of the population.

Prior to Organising Disaster, Michael worked on change of use of buildings and how materiality and use interrelate. For a PhD, Michael studied environmental experts and how they produce the environment at the intersection of science, politics and the economy. Michael also worked with colleagues Bernd Kräftner and Judith Kröll on an approach that they called “incubation” that combines sociology and art. Currently, they are working on a project "In the Event of... Anticipatory and Participatory Politics of Emergency Provision". Previously, Michael was a co-curator of "die wahr/falsch inc.", an exhibition on science and the public in Vienna.


Michael teaches on the MA in Visual Sociology and convenes a number of undergraduate options such as Visual Exploration of the Social World and Food and Taste.

Areas of supervision

Science and Technology Studies; Architecture, Buildings and Urbanism, Visual and Sensory Sociology (and other methodological explorations); Sociology of Disasters; Sociology of Experts; Sociology of Organisations.

Publications and research outputs


Guggenheim, Michael; Kröll, Judith; Kräftner, Bernd; Martos, Alexander and Oberhuber, Florian, eds. 2006. Die wahr/falsch inc. Eine Wissenschaftsausstellung in der Stadt. Wien: Facultas. ISBN 978-3850767842

Guggenheim, Michael. 2005. Organisierte Umwelt. Umweltdienstleistungsfirmen zwischen Wissenschaft, Wirtschaft und Politik. Bielefeld: Transcript. ISBN 978-3-89942-296-2

Edited Book

Marres, Noortje; Guggenheim, Michael and Wilkie, Alex, eds. 2018. Inventing the Social. Manchester: Mattering Press. ISBN 9780995527751

Deville, Joe; Guggenheim, Michael and Hrdličková, Zuzana, eds. 2016. Practising Comparison: Logics, Relations, Collaborations. Manchester: Mattering Press. ISBN 978-0-9931449-4-3

Guggenheim, Michael and Söderström, Ola, eds. 2009. Re-Shaping Cities: How Global Mobility Transforms Architecture and Urban Form. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-49291-1

Book Section

Guggenheim, Michael. 2024. Performative Experiments. In: Rebecca Coleman; Kat Jungnickel and Nirmal Puwar, eds. How To do Sociology With... London: Goldsmiths Press, pp. 297-311. ISBN 9781913380427

Voss, Jan Peter; Guggenheim, Michael; Rigamonti, Nora; Haulsen, Aline and Söding, Max. 2023. Provoking Taste: Experimenting With New Ways of Sensing. In: Jan Peter Voss; Nora Rigamonti; Marcela Suárez and Jacob Watson, eds. Sensing Collectives: Aesthetic and Political Practices Intertwined. Bielefeld, Germany: transcript Verlag, pp. 199-218. ISBN 9783837657456

Guggenheim, Michael; Kröll, Judith and Kräftner, Bernd. 2021. A Shifting Incubation: From Exhibiting Academic Migration to Staging Interactions with Academic Refugees. In: Gary Lee Downey and Teun Zuiderent-Jerak, eds. Making & Doing: Activating STS through Knowledge Expression and Travel. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, pp. 73-93. ISBN 9780262366052


Guggenheim, Michael. 2024. Theorizing is not Abstraction but Horizontal Translation. Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, ISSN 1600-910X

Voß, Jan Peter and Guggenheim, Michael. 2019. Making Taste Public: Industrialized Orders of Sensing and the Democratic Potential of Experimental Eating. Politics and Governance, 7(4), pp. 224-236.

Guggenheim, Michael and Cuch, Laura. 2018. Encounter, create and eat the world: a meal (workshop). EASST Review, 37(4), pp. 31-33. ISSN 1384-5160

Conference or Workshop Item

Danholt, Peter; Guggenheim, Michael; Michael, Mike and Wilkie, Alex. 2022. 'What Worlds do Workshops World?'. In: Danish Association for Science and Technology Studies Conference 2022 (DASTS 2022). STS Centre, Aarhus; Aarhus University, Denmark 2 - 3 June 2022.


Wilkie, Alex; Guggenheim, Michael and Marrero-Guillamón, Isaac. 2020. Creating Better Visualisations With STS.


Guggenheim, Michael and Voss, Jan Peter. 2020. Taste! Experiments for Senses. In: "Taste! Experiments for the Senses", Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Germany, 30 September - 18 October 2020.


Guggenheim, Michael; Kräftner, Bernd and Kröll, Judith. 2008. Straight from the Heart. Prevention Indices and Divinations of Researchers.

Research Interests

Organizing Disaster: Civil Protection and the Population (2010-2015)

When disasters hit, the state sends specialised organisations to cope with the situation. These organisations are often hierarchical and they have great powers to re-organize the population, to tell people where to go, to give or withhold both material and other forms of help. Disaster situations are thus in many ways pre-structured by the programmes of these organisations and how they conceptualize the population. 

Michael Guggenheim seeks to analyze in his project „Organizing Disaster: Civil Protection and the Population“ the encounter between civil protection as state organisation and the population. What happens when civil protection encounters the population in case of disasters? How does civil protection conceive of the population and how does it influence what happens in case of disasters? Is the population seen as uniform or as composed of different groups? How are these groups addressed? Does civil protection simply attempt to restore a previous state or change society into a given direction? How does the population conceive of civil protection in turn? 

By drawing on Science and Technology Studies civil protection is analysed as a knowledge-based, organised attempt to order society with the help of various technologies. The project seeks to answer the above questions by combining document analysis of civil protection manuals, participant observation of civil protection trainings and qualitative interviews in the aftermath of flood-disasters. The empirical fields are England, Switzerland and India, to allow for comparison of different forms of centralization and professionalization of civil protection organisations.

Source of funding: European Research Council (ERC) starting grant webpage.


“In the Event of …” Anticipatory and Participatory Politics of Emergency Provision. (2010-2012)

Together with Bernd Kräftner and Judith Kröll

Funded by the Vienna Science and Technology Funds (WWTF).

With Research stays at the research group “communicating disasters” at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) Bielefeld. And Akademie Schloss Solitude

The project focuses on provision and care in the event of anticipated emergencies. These provisions serve as vanishing points to imagine different concrete futures. During the project we gather several versions of emergency provisions that we test under experimental emergency conditions. Our aim is to find out about how to live a good life – in the face of anticipated futures.

This approach is based on the observation that societies are driven by reactions to disasters scenarios, but that the methods how to prepare for those scenarios, even though they are of tremendous importance, belong to the so-called grey sciences and are largely hidden from public debate. By grey sciences we refer to formal and informal actors like logistics, heritage protection, household economics, allocation and regulation authorities, quality managers, insurance organisations, and psychologists that are involved in decision-making.

Our first aim is to bring the various logics of these disciplines together into one arena, confront them with everyday practices of emergency provision and develop from this new forms of emergency provision. To do so, our second aim is to intertwine the artistic and scientific epistemologies: the question of how to “enact” and create methods at the borders of science and art to re-create, re-calculate, mediate and change the methods for defining, calculating and comparing methods to assess emergency provision is a crucial part of the project.