Internet policy in German federal ministries


In the context of the research on the emergence of an Internet policy field in Germany, the research group “Politics of Digitalization” analyzed the institutionalization of Internet policy in German ministries. Building on a historical analysis of organizational charts and narrative interviews with senior officials, we reconstructed how public and professional discourses materialized in ministries through the emergence of new organizational structures. Using a field theory approach, we further assessed how several German ministries sought to position themselves in the new field of digital policy by creating competencies for Internet-related issues. The results also illustrated the discursive struggles that took place in this new policy field and how the meaning attributed to the terms “digitalization” and “Internet” changed over time.

The analysis of organizational charts showed the ministries that established organizational units related to the Internet or digitalization between 1995 and 2016 and how many such units were created in each ministry. It also revealed changes in the distribution and denomination of those units. In addition, the project focused on two ministries, for which organizational change was analyzed in greater depth: The Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy and the Federal Ministry of the Interior—the two ministries with the highest share of responsibilities in terms of digital policy . The result is a dense narrative on the institutionalization of discourses in the two ministries, such as the information society discourse or the cyber security discourse.

Contact: Ronja Kniep and Maximilian Hösl 


Hösl, Maximilian/Irgmaier, Florian/Kniep, Ronja (im Erscheinen): "Digitalisierungsdiskurse und Ministerialorganisation". In: Tanja Klenk/Frank Nullmeier/ Göttrik Wewer (Hrsg.): Handbuch Digitalisierung in Staat und Verwaltung, Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

Hösl, Maximilian/ Kniep, Ronja (im Erscheinen): "Auf den Spuren eines Politikfeldes: Die Institutionalisierung von Internetpolitik in der Ministerialverwaltung". In: Berliner Journal für Soziologie (voraussichtlich Heft 2, 2019).

Pohle, Julia/Hösl, Maximilian/Kniep, Ronja (2016): "Analysing Internet Policy as a Field of Struggle". In: Internet Policy Review - Journal on Internet Regulation, Vol. 5, No. 3, S. 1-21.

Hösl, Maximilian/Irgmaier, Florian/Kniep, Ronja (2016): "Die Sprache der Kästchen und Linien. Organigramme erzählen, wie Politikfelder entstehen". In: WZB-Mitteilungen, H. 153, S. 36-39.