Call for Paper „Modes of Governance in Digitally Networked Environments“

Christian Pentzold, who is currently a Visiting Researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, and his colleague Malte Ziewitz are preparing an interdisciplinary Workshop on „Modes of Governance in Digitally Networked Environments“ (26th march; .pdf of the call). Here’s the outline:

Over the past decades, a variety of new technologies have reconfigured the ways
in which we initiate and maintain social and economic relations. Today, millions
of people around the globe buy goods from people they have never met in person,
edit the online encyclopedia Wikipedia without monetary rewards, use e-mail and
SMS to organize political protest, stay in contact with friends via social
networking sites, or look for a new partner via online dating services. In
short, an increasing part of our lives is taking place in digitally networked
environments. Powered by information and communication technologies built on
cheap and interconnected processors with considerable computing capacity, these
environments are characterized by novel forms of interaction.

Digitally networked environments are often assumed to magically govern
themselves. Especially when traditional modes of governance like law and
centralized regulations fail, researchers tend to resort to ideas like
?self-regulation,? ?decentralization,? ?liberalization,? or ?peer production? to
describe the complex interactions and mechanisms that take place in large-scale,
loose-knit socio-technical networks. Moreover, the network itself is often
contrasted with markets or hierarchies as a new mode of governance in its own

This workshop will adopt a different approach and take a closer look at new and
non-obvious modes of governance in digitally networked environments.
Specifically, we would like to explore what these modes are, how they work, and
who or what controls them. Questions might be, but are not limited to: What is
the role of calculation, measurement, classification, trust, accountability, or
reputation? How can we understand leadership and authority under these
conditions? Which role does the technical infrastructure play? Is there evidence
for a new form of network governance? Overall, the goal of the workshop is to
generate a deeper conceptual, empirical, and normative understanding of these
new modes of governance through open and creative discussion.

We are planning on having a one-day workshop with several sessions, focusing on
one mode of governance each. A session will be kicked off by a presenter and a
respondent, preferably grounding their arguments in empirical analysis. At the
end of the day, we hope to wrap up the workshop and summarize the findings in a
brief report.

The workshop is open to a maximum of 16 postgraduates and post-docs from all
departments and universities. If you would like to participate, please send a
brief abstract (300 words) including your name, affiliation, and contact details
to by Feb. 20, 2009. Priority will be given to those
who commit to introducing a mode of governance of their choice for discussion.
Refreshments, lunch, and challenging ideas will be provided. A limited amount of
travel funding is available.

Christian Pentzold (christian.pentzold [at]
Malte Ziewitz (malte.ziewitz [at]
Oxford Internet Institute ? Oxford University
1 St. Giles, Oxford, OX1 3JS, United Kingdom

Generously supported by the Web Science Research Initiative

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