Research group on “(In)visibility in the digital age” starts

The newly founded research group “Hide and See(k) – Visibility in the Digital Age”—funded by Center of Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS) as a working group—met on the 16. and 17.08.2018 for the two-day kick-off workshop at the CAIS in Bochum. The research group consists of scientists from German, Austrian, Swiss, and Swedish universities and researches how important visibility respectively invisibility is in the digital world.

The research group investigates the question: Which meaning does (in)visibility have in the digital age, how does it arise and which consequences does it have for individual actors, organisations, and societally relevant processes? During the kick-off workshop at the CAIS, the research group members discussed different perspectives and approaches to (in)visibility in the digital age and debated how these can be captured theoretically and methodically. The topic areas included both current phenomena like “hate speech” which are used for visible intimidation of people, as well as socio-political aspects like e.g. the question of how individuals and organisations can cope with increasing wanted or unwanted visibility of large amounts of data traces.

The long-term goal of the researchers’ collaboration is to establish the topic area in societal and public discourse. Thus, during the workshop, shared research projects as well as other working steps like presentations and publications were planned. In this way, the members created the basis for further intensive and focused joint work on this important topic.

Background information on the consortium

In the digital age, visibility and invisibility become important categories to describe and explain communication, particularly on the internet. When doing so, three dimensions are particularly relevant: The visibility of data, of people and institutions, as well as structures and processes. It first concerns conditions of access and availability of information. Second, the visibility of people and institutions raises questions about their speaking competences and opinion leadership. Third but not last, the question of what becomes visible respectively is made (not) visible knowingly or unknowingly emerges.

The research group consists of scientist from German, Austrian, Swiss, and Swedish universities. They work in central fields of media and communication research and represent different theoretical and empirical approaches which allow a broad conceptualisation of the term “visibility”.

Participants of the workshop:

  • Annekatrin Bock, Leibniz Institute for International Textbook Research, Braunschweig
  • Cornelia Brantner, IWAF – Institute of Science Communication and Applied Research, Vienna
  • Hanne Detel, University of Tübingen, Institute of Media Studies
  • Ines Engelmann, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Institute of Communication Research
  • Merja Mahrt, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Institute of Social Sciences
  • Anne Schulze, University of Applied Sciences Koblenz, Department of Social Sciences
  • Nina Springer, Södertörn University Stockholm, School of Social Sciences
  • Helena Stehle, University of Hohenheim, Department of Communication Science, esp. Journalism
  • Claudia Wilhelm, University of Erfurt, Institute of Media and Communication Science
  • Birgit Mangels-Veogt, KOMPASS, consulting, Schanewede (external moderation)

Background information on the CAIS

At the Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS) the political, economic, social, and cultural developments which are caused by the internet and digitalization are researched. As a research college, the CAIS enables experts from science and practice to dedicate themselves to a project in the area of digitalization and internet research. In addition, the CAIS promotes working groups and events.

The CAIS seeks the dialogue with citizens, educational institutions, companies, and politics to discuss how the digital future can be shaped.

As an independent research centre, the CAIS is funded by the government NRW. Its shareholders are the Ruhr University of Bochum, the Heinrich Heine University of Düsseldorf, the University of Duisburg-Essen, the University of Münster and the Grimme Institute (Marl).  

Content-related contacts

Dr. Helena Stehle
University of Hohenheim
Department of Communication Science, esp. Journalism
Fruwirthstraße 49
70599 Stuttgart (Germany)
Phone: +49 711 459-24294

Dr. Annekatrin Bock
Leibniz Institute for International Textbook Research
Department Schoolbook as a Medium
Celler Str. 3
38114 Braunschweig (Germany)
Tel. +49 (0)531 59099-345

Contact Partner CAIS:

Dr. Matthias Begenat
Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS) GmbH
Head of Knowledge Transfer and Public Relations
Universitätsstr. 104
44799 Bochum (Germany)
Tel. +49 234 544 96 047

More information: (German)


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