B.1 The Digital Infra-Structuration of Trust

On the one hand, subarea B1 is focusing on trust valuation in the ongoing development processes of decentralized digital infrastructures. On the other and considering an increased use of algorithmically curated OSN it became essential to examine how privacy and trust (de)stabilize and modify each other in algorithmic infrastructures. Therefore, the research of subarea B1 focuses on the coordination and regulation procedures of digital collectives as well as online platforms. It poses the question how these procedures appear both as a solution and as a source of trust problems.

Current PhD project of subarea B.1:

Digital Networks as Projects of Governance and Exploitation. Studies on the Orchestration and Mediation of Specific Forms and Modes of Privacy and Trust by Platforms.

- Florian Müller-

In the course of the last 20 years, online platforms have become enmeshed in virtually all aspects of social life. Thereby, platforms are not just neutral mediators or intermediaries, but rather economically driven companies who increasingly decide, organise and structure under which conditions we communicate, act, conduct relationships, consume content and make transactions. This makes platforms very central and powerful actors in the orchestration and regulation of sociality and at the same time raises questions and debates about the regulation and governance of these platforms.

Two social phenomena that illustrate this particularly clearly are privacy and trust. Confronted with multiple new challenges and problems, privacy and trust have become central and highly important normative criteria of the digital society, a yardstick for evaluating, negotiating and structuring digital transformation processes.

In the same way online platforms are changing spaces, structures and rules of social communication, forms and modes of privacy and trust are also changing.

This, in turn, gives reason to take a closer look at the conditions under which users construct and design privacy and trust in digital space, respectively on online platforms.

In my PhD-project, I will therefore investigate how platforms structure and order digital networks by the mediation and governance of specific forms and modes of privacy and trust.

For this purpose, I will interpret privacy and trust as structural elements of social relations as well as media of governance processes through which networks are organised and structured in specific ways. Depending on how trust and privacy are constructed and staged, the relationships and dependencies between the different actors or components of a network change and thus the order of the network itself also changes. Therefore, privacy and trust are both a structuring part of models of order and subject of ongoing negotiation processes by which these orders are (re-)constructed and altered.

Building on this understanding of privacy and trust, the research questions of this thesis will be addressed in both a theoretical conceptual way and in an empirical illustrative way.

Theoretical explanations are intended to sensitise for the empirical object, just as empirical explanations are intended to illustrate, test and guide theoretical work.

From an empirical point of view, it is further planned to contrast platform-based centralized networks with blockchain-based decentralized networks in order to be able to better elaborate on differences and characteristics.

  Name Working area(s) Contact
Prof. Dr. Jörn Lamla
B.1, B3
+49 561 804 2185
Florian Müller
B.1, Tandem: B.3, D.3