Setting-up the new Internet Institute

The project group coordinated the successful Berlin application for the “German Internet Institute”. Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research with 50 million euro over the coming five years, the new institute will investigate the interactions between digitalization and society from an interdisciplinary perspective and establish 80 new research positions, distributed between the WZB and seven partner institutions in Berlin und Brandenburg (FU, HU, TU, UdK Berlin, Fraunhofer FOKUS and University of Potsdam).

Two of the Internet Institute’s new research groups, one of them focussing on “Democracy and digitalization” and a second group, analysing “Quantification and regulation”, will be linked to the project group.

The new Internet Institutes’ website (German only)

Job offers at the Internet Institute

Contact person: Iris Cseke

Institutionalisation of internet policy-related competencies

In order to understand if we are currently witnessing the emergence of a new policy field around the subject of the Internet, we assess the institutionalisation of respective responsibilities in federal ministries and agencies. Based on the historical analysis of organisational charts, we trace the evolution of regulatory competences for Internet-related policies within selected ministries. In addition, we conduct biographic interviews with chief officers who help us in understanding the development of Internet-related responsibilities within the different institutions.

Currently we focus on the three federal ministries in charge of the Digital Agenda, namely the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. The analysis of additional ministries and federal agencies is planned.

Contact persons: Ronja Kniep and Dr. Julia Pohle

Assessing Big Data (ABIDA)

Our project group is participating in a collaborative project with five universities that aims at “assessing big data” (project website). The goal is to analyze the development and uses of big data from different disciplinary perspectives: ethics, law, sociology, political science and economy. We will develop the political science approach, looking at big data as a resource for government and as a subject of regulation, with a special focus on the power relations that emerge around big data. To this aim we will study how big data impacts and/or reproduces constructions of knowledge and discourses. We will also map the institutional setting and the actors that shape the development of big data.

Download of the project description.

Contact person: Dr. Lena Ulbricht

Discussion series Network & Politics

Since early 2016, POLI is one of the main organisers of a new Berlin-based initiative called "Networks & Politics". It is a series of discussions aiming to bring together civil society and academia interested in global Internet policy and its impact on the national level. The networking meetings take place three times per year in Berlin and are supported by ICANN and Wikimedia Germany.

Link to the website of Networks & Politics

Contact person: Dr. Julia Pohle

Semantic formation

In order to assess the semantic dimension of a policy field emergence, we use different tools of text mining. This approach allows us to retrace the formation of categories, meanings and discourses, for instance the formation of the German term “Netzpolitik”, which is currently the most commonly used term when referring to internet related subjects and political processes. The first results of this semantic analysis will be published as part of an edited volume “Text Mining in den Sozialwissenschaften”. The book contribution aims to approach the common understanding of the field as a condition for policy fields by applying text mining to a large corpus of newspaper articles. The empirical analysis has been conducted in cooperation with the project “Post Democracy and Neoliberalism”, financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Future research will exploit the opportunities of a diachronic comparison between semantic networks for the analysis of semantic formations during the emergence of policy fields. Eventually, this approach will be extended to other text corpora, such as plenary protocols, press releasesand internet policy related blogs.

Contact person: Maximilian Hösl

Workshop on the formation of policy fields (completed)

On 25 November 2015 we held a workshop on the emergence of policy fields from a comparative and theoretical perspective. The aim of the workshop is to continue the systematic analysis of policy fields which was initiated in spring 2014 during the annual symposium of the DVPW section “Policy Analysis and Administrative Sciences”. During the workshop, researchers reported on their study of different policy fields, for example regarding the field of ecology or migration. In addition, we focussed on the conceptual approaches that can be used to study the emergence of new policy fields and invited scholars to discuss selected theoretical perspectives. Based on the comparative and the conceptual presentations, the workshop assessed the differences and communalities of emerging policy fields and discussed their formation from the perspective of policy studies, institutionalism, discourse analysis and others.

The proceedings of the workshop and a summary of the debate have been published in form of a WZB discussion paper.

Survey about the politicisation of internet policy in Germany (completed)

Between October 2013 and Mai 2014 we conducted a small survey to gather information on the politicisation of internet policy related topics. For this purpose, we asked members of German internet policy blogs when and why they came into contact with internet policy and when and why they thought questions concerning the internet became political. Based on the survey results, we could identify particular moments of politicisation, as well as a surprising stability and continuity of the subjects that contributed to this process. We presented the results of the survey at the re:publica conference in Berlin in Mai 2014 (video online).