Research fields

Research fields

The aspects and questions resulting from the leading theme „Privacy and Digitalization“ require interdisciplinary and interfaculty cooperation. At the same time, this theme is divided into research fields, which already alone, but even more in their synergy, contribute to fulfil the Research Training Group’s (RTG) objective and systemize the diverse complexity of privacy and digitalization sustainably.

The four key research fields of the RTG are outlined below, together with their specific research interests as well as their overall goals.

A prime example of interdisciplinary collaboration

A purely jurisprudential analysis in the field of mass media is no longer sufficient to arrive at a comprehensive classification; rather, this requires us to consider terminological, semantic, cultural, emblematic and media-related aspects. Representations of the private in the media have to be examined in their specific dynamics using appropriate media-related research methods, before they can become the object of any other academic discipline. Only then can representations of privacy in the public realm become the subject of legal and empirical educational research on the usage and impact of the media.

Representations of the private in the mass media currently engender new ways of expression, which in turn give rise to new discourses and virtual possibility spaces (e.g. in social networks) or transform existing spaces (such as the public one). The dynamic of these phenomena is such that it poses a continuous challenge to the disciplines of law and sociology. The blurring of the boundaries of the private in its public depiction or in media-related communication modifies traditional role models and demands differentiated jurisprudential approaches.

Knowledge of the legal framework surrounding privacy, and its effects on the relationship between state, economy and society, is a fundamental prerequisite for innovative approaches in other areas of research. Reflections of this kind should not be limited to a cultural region or legal system, but must take into account the wider European picture, as the directives and legal principles under international and EU law can have a direct bearing on the laws of its member states. In terms of the various different privacy-related norms and values, a culture-specific and interculturally comparative perspective is indispensable for jurisprudence.

Furthermore, cultural processes to distinguish the private from the non-private go hand-in-hand with innovations in information technology. This raises the question how the legal profession should react to these changes: the development of the so-called 'new media', encompassing new TV formats and types of mobile and internet communication, has reached a level that would make it necessary to establish a legal framework that accommodates and regulates their potentials.

Moreover, a cultural dynamic has arisen that gets to the heart of privacy and therefore needs to be examined from various different angles.