The spectrum of methods used is extra-ordinarily broad, extending from experimental studies to hermeneutics. A number of institutes belonging to this Section are of an interdisciplinary nature, and combine a variety of different approaches and thematic priorities under one roof.
The most recently founded institute in this Section is the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, established in Göttingen in 2007. Modern societies are characterized by the coexistence of individuals of widely differing origins, ethnicities and religions, as well as sexual orientation. The organization of these culturally diverse social groups presents great challenges for modern societies, but also affords many opportunities. The members of the institute in Göttingen use ethnographic methods to examine the forms of coexistence shared by differing cultures that have developed in urban areas in various regions of the world. They focus on the extent to which societies and their subsystems are able to utilize the creative potential generated by burgeoning diversity, how they deal with this diversity and how they overcome conflict. Currently made up of two departments, the institute will soon add a third, the members of which will concentrate on normative issues relating to the topic.