Sub- and countercultures of computer-usage since the 1970s

PhD project

In addition to governmental, military, and economic interests, there are sub- and counterc-ultures dealing with the new medium right from the commencement of computer-usage. In particular the hackers, but also players, pursued own practices with the computer and formed networks. Thus, they shaped the discourse and the practice regarding computers. These cultural practices and their impact on the daily-life application of computers since the 1970s in Germany will be developed in the PhD project.
The primary focus of research is on the hackers. Hackers are individuals who for example generated utopias of societies based on the new technology. In addition they warn of the misuse of private data. Narrowing the research region down to Germany, it will be explored what role hackers took in the formation of modern societies and the computerization as well as how they fit in the field of new social movements.
Public actions as well as everyday use of computers, and hence the hackers' self-understanding, will be examined more closely. The actions and the organization of hackers can be seen in the context of the movements and the alternative milieu evolving in the 1970s and 1980s in Germany. Another topic of interest requiring further investigation is how the hacker-movement developed in a field of tension to the formerly mentioned groups, as well as to governmental and economic institutions. At the same time hackers interacted with the players and the so-called crackers, who also developed their own habits concerning computers.
According to the identified structures and its origin, the subject is genuinely transnational. As such, the topic can be studied in greater depth as the analysis of a cross-border exchange and a commitment to social and political events of a "networked" world can be elaborated. The national framework offers the possibility to comparatively work out the various objectives and procedures of a transnational phenomenon in its specific context.

Part of the SAW-project Departure towards the Digital Society. Computerisation and Social Regimes in West and East Germany

Julia Erdogan

Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung
Am Neuen Markt 1
14467 Potsdam

Büro: Am Neuen Markt 9d, Raum 1.06
Tel.: 0331/74510-119
Fax: 0331/74510-143

E-Mail: erdogan [at]