Doing Internet Governance: Constructing Normative Structures Inside and Outside of Intermediary Organisations
15 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2017
Date Written: December 2016
Concepts of internet governance have been applied primarily to institutional structures, normative factors like law, technology and social norms and to their materialisations in written laws, contracts or code. However, if we not only see them as given artifacts, but also as (common) constructions of social reality, we can also shed light on uses and practices from a governance perspective. That’s the “Doing Governance“ approach. Unfortunately, theoretical concepts and methods needed for comprehensive analyses covering structures and processes are still missing. We propose to connect these by understanding governance as an achievement of figurations in line with Norbert Elias. We can attribute distinct features to particular figurations: individual and collective actors form specific constellations. The power, privileges and responsibilities of the actors are corresponding with these. Furthermore, they realise specific communicative practices in determinable frames of relevance. Looking at governance on the basis of this framework opens the methodological access twofold: first, we can conduct hermeneutic content analyses of the materialisations and thereby approach the normative structures; second, we can observe the figurations and analyse their features and communicative practices. We illustrate that this framework is useful on the basis of the case of governance of conflicts on search engine entries after the ECJ’s ruling in the so called Google Spain case. This forces companies such as Google to set up their own procedures, rules and departments to handle deletion requests by users. We examine this change in the governance of search engine use and show at the same time how helpful the proposed framework is for understanding such transformations.
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