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Ronja Kniep, M.A.

Former Research Fellow

The project by Ronja Kniep investigates digital surveillance by intelligence networks as a transnational field in the sense of Pierre Bourdieu. The project reconstructs the emergence of this transnational field along three phases: (a) Field formation in the era of telegraph surveillance (1910s – 1950s), (b) autonomisation of the field in the era of computers and satellite surveillance (1960s – 1990s), and (c) extension and commercialization of the field in the era of internet surveillance (2000s – 2010s).

Overall, the project has three goals. First, it identifies the rationalities and rules of internet surveillance in contrast to previous forms of surveillance. Second, drawing on sociological field theory, it analyses the emergence of transnational social orders in the field of intelligence. Using the transnational field as a unit of analysis draws attention to how social ordering in the digital transformation takes place beyond international state politics and, oftentimes, beyond democratic processes. Third, it develops a political analysis of surveillance as a problem of communicative freedom that complements the common understanding that surveillance interferes with individual privacy. The concept of communicative freedom that the dissertation develops integrates an individual and a collective dimension of freedom that includes the ideal of a surveillance-free public sphere and democratic self-determination.

During her time at the Weizenbaum Institute Ronja Kniep wants to finalises the empiric case studies that represent the phases of field formation of Signals Intelligence and demonstrate the character of contemporary forms of surveillance.

Positions at Weizenbaum Institut

Former Research Fellow

Research Group “Technology, Power and Domination

01.09.23 - 30.11.23

Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB)