The Internet Policy Field
The project group The Internet Policy Field (POLI) investigates how society makes sense of and shapes the digital transformation, a process which is gradually affecting all areas of social life. Since 2013 the project group has been investigating the emergence of a distinct policy field in which capacities and competences are being established to shape the ongoing digital transformation.
Alongside its core project, POLI has expanded its research into two directions. First, the project group focusses on the topics of Big Data and communications surveillance to understand how specific policy issues shape and become shaped by the Internet policy field. Second, to account for national varieties in the development of Internet policy fields, the group is working on an international comparison of Internet policy in six countries.
To lay the foundation for future research on the digital transformation, the group’s head Jeanette Hofmann has led the WZB’s contribution to the Berlin-Brandenburg consortium that successfully applied for the German Internet Institute. The new institute was set-up in 2017 and named “Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society”. Two of the Weizenbaum Institute’s new research groups are now integrated in POLI, broadening its theoretical and empirical focus. The research group “Democracy and digitalization” studies the interrelation between processes of digitalization and the change of democratic institutions and practices. The research group “Quantification and regulation” investigates how forms of automated data processing become established as a means of political regulation.
With its empirical and conceptual research programme, the project group offers a social science perspective on the digital transformation as one of the most pressing challenges of our time. It thereby contributes to the relatively young but growing field of Internet policy research.