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Sociology of the Internet

Course Units (new window)


Prof. Dr. Gabriele Winker

Course Format:

2 hours Seminar


Winter Semester



Recommended Previous Knowledge:


Enrollment via StudIP is obligatory.


The fact that technology is socially constructed is broadly accepted within sociology. Here, the technical design of the internet and the cultural practices of users are seen as resulting from an ongoing social process. Involved in those processes, which are conflictual (and, hence, political), are different actors from fields such as economics, politics, science and civil society. With approaches from sociology of science and technology as well as political science, the course addresses the history of the internet as well as today's social conflicts around matters like surveillance, copyright, data protection and privacy, and net neutrality.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Knowledge of the history and background of the Internet
  • Understanding the development of the Internet as a result of processes of negotiation and conflicts
  • Realising the societal implications of the Internet
  • Knowledge of how societal activists do and can shape this technology
  • Understanding the theoretical concepts of the Science and Technology Studies (STS) and the Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) approach
  • Applying the Actor Network Theory to the Internet and seeing its "constructors" and its "users" as interacting actants

Reading Resources:

  • Beck, S./Niewöhner, J./Sørensen, E. (Hrsg.) 2012: Science and Technology Studies: Eine sozialanthropologische Einführung. Bielefeld (Transcript).
  • Braman, S. (2010). Internet Policy. In M. Consalvo & C. Ess (Eds.), The Handbook of Internt Studies (pp. 137-167). Chichester (Wiley-Blackwell).
  • Bunz, M. (2008). Vom Speicher zum Verteiler. Die Geschichte des Internet. Berlin (Kadmos).
  • Degele, N. (2002): Einführung in die Techniksoziologie, Stuttgart (ETB).
  • Stöcker, C. (2012). Governance des digitalen Raumes. Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, 62(7), 9-14.

Performance Record:

- active participation - reading assignments - group research and poster assignment, individual presentation of the poster - for students who need a grade only: individual short paper on the topic of their poster (3 to 5 pages)


60 hours total

Further Information:


Credit points of this module can be found in the course plan for the corresponding course of study.

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