Digital Inequalities. Divides, Hierarchies, and Boundaries in Germany, 1970s to 1990s.

Collaborative project
The Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History (ZZF) in cooperation with Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsmedien | Georg-Eckert-Institut (GEI) and Hochschule des Bundes für öffentliche Verwaltung (HS Bund)

Projekt leader: Michael Homberg
Starting Date: July 2023
Supported by the Leibniz-Association, Funding Line „Cooperative Excellence“ (2023)

PhD projects at the ZZF Potsdam
Programmed Inequality. New Technologies, Old Barriers – Computers and Women, Nina Neuscheler
Digital Borders and the Birth of a Digital Migration System in Germany and Western Europe from the late 1960s to the early 21st Century, Lennart V. Schmidt

With the advent of digital technologies in the 20th century, our living and working worlds have fundamentally changed – with far-reaching social, political, economic, and cultural consequences. From a 21st century’s perspective, these changes have been labelled as the rise of a new, “digital society”. According to its founding myths, this society is based on an emancipatory use of technology, universal access and new ways of interactivity. However, against all utopian dreams linked to the “computer revolution”, the digital society quickly developed its own hierarchies, building new digital walls and causing new digital divides. This project takes up the German case in its transnational contexts to raise the question how and why such divides, hierarchies and boundaries occurred. By analyzing how computers and digital media since the 1970s developed, it trains a spotlight on the inequality, marginalization and biases woven into our technological systems. Thus, it asks how digital devices were technically implemented, socially prepared and discursively negotiated. Exploring the structural preconditions, diverging manifestations and individual experiences of digital inequalities, it combines social, political, economic and cultural history approaches to understand the (hidden) power dynamics and labor circuits behind digitalization. To this end, the case studies will exemplarily analyze how digital technologies originated new experts and knowledge regimes, how computers altered gender and class relations in the emerging digital society, how educational technologies conquered German classrooms and in which pedagogical practices they were embedded, and how databanks and digital networks channeled migration processes and helped building border regimes. With that, the project will further our understanding of the digital age and develop new, critical perspectives on central contemporary history issues.

For more information on the joint project Digital Inequalities, please visit the project website at: https://digital-inequalities.com

Priv.-Doz. Dr. Michael Homberg

Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam
Am Neuen Markt 1
14467 Potsdam

E-Mail: homberg [at] zzf-potsdam.de

Priv.-Doz. Dr Michael Homberg is on leave from 1.4.-31.7.2024 and represents the Professur für die Geschichte der Neuzeit (19.-21. Jh.) mit ihren Wissens- und Technikkulturen at the RWTH Aachen.

Forschung

Digital Inequalities. Divides, Hierarchies, and Boundaries in Germany, 1970s to 1990s.

Collaborative project
The Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History (ZZF) in cooperation with Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsmedien | Georg-Eckert-Institut (GEI) and Hochschule des Bundes für öffentliche Verwaltung (HS Bund)

Projekt leader: Michael Homberg
Starting Date: July 2023
Supported by the Leibniz-Association, Funding Line „Cooperative Excellence“ (2023)

PhD projects at the ZZF Potsdam
Programmed Inequality. New Technologies, Old Barriers – Computers and Women, Nina Neuscheler
Digital Borders and the Birth of a Digital Migration System in Germany and Western Europe from the late 1960s to the early 21st Century, Lennart V. Schmidt

With the advent of digital technologies in the 20th century, our living and working worlds have fundamentally changed – with far-reaching social, political, economic, and cultural consequences. From a 21st century’s perspective, these changes have been labelled as the rise of a new, “digital society”. According to its founding myths, this society is based on an emancipatory use of technology, universal access and new ways of interactivity. However, against all utopian dreams linked to the “computer revolution”, the digital society quickly developed its own hierarchies, building new digital walls and causing new digital divides. This project takes up the German case in its transnational contexts to raise the question how and why such divides, hierarchies and boundaries occurred. By analyzing how computers and digital media since the 1970s developed, it trains a spotlight on the inequality, marginalization and biases woven into our technological systems. Thus, it asks how digital devices were technically implemented, socially prepared and discursively negotiated. Exploring the structural preconditions, diverging manifestations and individual experiences of digital inequalities, it combines social, political, economic and cultural history approaches to understand the (hidden) power dynamics and labor circuits behind digitalization. To this end, the case studies will exemplarily analyze how digital technologies originated new experts and knowledge regimes, how computers altered gender and class relations in the emerging digital society, how educational technologies conquered German classrooms and in which pedagogical practices they were embedded, and how databanks and digital networks channeled migration processes and helped building border regimes. With that, the project will further our understanding of the digital age and develop new, critical perspectives on central contemporary history issues.

For more information on the joint project Digital Inequalities, please visit the project website at: https://digital-inequalities.com

Priv.-Doz. Dr. Michael Homberg

Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam
Am Neuen Markt 1
14467 Potsdam

E-Mail: homberg [at] zzf-potsdam.de

Priv.-Doz. Dr Michael Homberg is on leave from 1.4.-31.7.2024 and represents the Professur für die Geschichte der Neuzeit (19.-21. Jh.) mit ihren Wissens- und Technikkulturen at the RWTH Aachen.

Forschung