The Politics of Digitalization - the emergence of the Internet policy field in Germany
Between 2015 and 2018, the research group analyzed the emergence of a new policy field related to the Internet and digitalization in Germany. Retracing the development of Internet policy since its origins in the field of telecommunication policy in the 1980s until today, we identified several phases of politicization and subsequent institutionalization of the new policy field and assessed the transformation this triggered for established policy fields such as economic policy, security policy or cultural policy.
Building on expert interviews and document analysis, we retraced how different state and non-state actors tried to make sense of the Internet and the digital transformation, and how they sought to shape it through public policies. To better understand the influence of competing interpretations of the institutional framework for Internet policy, we investigated the emergence of the policy field as a series of conflicts over meaning, expertise and resources between politicians, business associations, civil society and ministries. Like the history of other policy fields such as environmental policy, the emergence of the Internet policy field in Germany can be described as a continuous struggle over conflicting priorities and interpretations, as well as a struggle for a free and open Internet.
Our findings on the history of the Internet policy field are currently being edited into a book, which we expect to publish in early 2020. We also plan to extend our empirical research to other countries through an international comparison.