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Technologies as Institutions: Rethinking the Role of Technology in Media Governance Constellations

Author: Katzenbach, C.
Published in: Puppis, M. & Just, N. (Eds.), Trends in Communication Policy Research: New Theories, Methods and Subjects (pp. 117-1138). Bristol/Chicago: intellect.
Year: 2012
Type: Book contributions and chapters

In recent years, the focus of communication policy research has shifted away from the state as central actor and legislation as central means to more heterogeneous regulatory structures. But media governance research seems to have a blind spot: the information and communication technologies that media communication relies upon. The focus on constructivist approaches to technology in social sciences has neglected the “politics of information and communication technologies” in two ways: First, there is a politics in technologies itself in the sense that their very design facilitates, controls and constrains social behaviour. Second, the development of new technologies and their reconfiguration do not follow any technological logic but is itself politically and socially contested.This article links approaches and insights from science and technology studies with the governance perspective in order to conceptualize the role of technology in media governance constellations beyond determinism. This allows conceiving technical architectures as essential and shapeable elements of the institutional environment that facilitates and constrains the range of behaviour (and preferences) of actors. Current policy debates about net neutrality, copyrights and access blocking are not explicable without taken technology both as an object as well as an institutionalized element of media governance into account.

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