Global Internet Governance Academic Network (GigaNet)

A global network for scholars of internet governance

Call for Contribution for GigaNet-supported AoIR preconference workshop

Call for Contributions


Deadline: 15 June 2016


The Internet Rules, But How?

An STS take on doing Internet governance


Preconference workshop – AoIR 2016

5 October 2016 – Berlin, Germany


Workshop facilitators:

Dmitry Epstein, Christian Katzenbach, Francesca Musiani, Julia Pohle


Keynote speaker:

Laura DeNardis


Over the last decade, the regulation and governance of the Internet at the national and international level have attracted growing attention by policy-makers and researchers. This is particularly the case in post-Snowden times which increased distrust of formal government institutions and their ‘dangerous liaisons’ with the private sector.

Traditionally, Internet governance (IG) research focussed on new institutions that have been explicitly established to negotiate the Internet’s technical coordination or deliberate Internet-related public policy issues. Recently, authors have criticised this institutional focus, including a small group of scholars who draw on perspectives from Science and Technology Studies (STS), calling to rethink and substantiate questions of ordering and governing the net. Their contributions highlight the day-to-day, mundane practices that constitute IG, take into account the plurality and ‘networkedness’ of devices and arrangements involved in the governance of information technology, and investigate the invisibility, pervasiveness, and apparent agency of the digital infrastructure itself.

IG, in this view, consists of practices and controversies of design, regulation, and use of material infrastructures. Accordingly, the observation and investigation of practices require different, innovative research approaches, which delve into the variety of ways in which digital uses and practices may be an integral part of today’s IG. In this way, STS-informed perspectives are increasingly instrumental for challenging and expanding our understanding and for informing our examination of ordering and governing processes in the digital realm.

This preconference workshop seeks to nurture the growing interest in researching and observing IG from an STS-informed perspective. More broadly, the workshop aims to facilitate a discussion and an exchange of perspectives about the intertwined roles of design, infrastructures, and informal communities of practice in IG.

For the full-day workshop, we are inviting contributions for four sessions:

  1. The first research panel will focus on theory, inviting papers that share a strong conceptual interest in understanding how STS can inform theoretical perspectives on Internet governance, for instance by revealing socio-technical controversies or by unveiling power and control structures embedded in Internet architecture and its governance institutions;

  2. The second research panel will focus on STS-informed empirical work on Internet governance, inviting papers that make use of the conceptual and methodological tool-sets of STS to observe and study IG practices and the ways in which the norms shaping the provision, design and usage of the Internet are negotiated, and de- and re-stabilised;

  3. For the methodological fishbowl session, we will invite researchers to report on their experience with STS-inspired Internet governance research. The open discussion will focus on the practicalities of doing participatory observation in IG and the challenges of negotiating one’s role as a researcher and an active participant (or even an activist) in IG processes;

  4.  For the final open roundtable discussion we are inviting researchers to reflect on the notion of “black box” as it relates to the treatment of technological artifacts in public and media discourses (e.g. related to the French intelligence bill). We foresee that unpacking the notion of the “black box” will also help engage IG research and researchers with the broader community of Internet scholars who are deliberating topics such as politics of platforms and algorithms.

Please submit your contributions no later than June 15 to We expect extended abstracts for sessions 1-2 and position papers for sessions 3-4, max. 800 words. Registration at the AoIR 2016 conference is necessary in order to participate at the workshop. Notification will be sent out in mid-July so that participants can book Early Bird Tickets for the conference before August 1.

This workshop is part of a broader effort of advancing an STS-informed conversation on Internet governance. It builds on the successful panel on STS perspectives on IG that took place during AoIR 2015 in Phoenix and a special issue of the Internet Policy Review to be published in early September 2016.

The workshop is supported by the Global Internet Governance Academic Network (GigaNet), the Internet Policy Review of the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG, Berlin), the Department of Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Institute for Communication Sciences (CNRS/Paris-Sorbonne/UPMC, Paris).







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