International Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW)

Dr. Paula Helm

Society, Culture and Technological Change

Dr. Paula Helm leads the project PEGASUS and works in the EU-project WeNet. She studied comp. Cultural and Religious Studies as well as Peace and Conflict Studies in Marburg, was a fellow in the DFG-Research Group "Privacy", PostDoc at the Goethe Uni Frankfurt and received her PhD on the topic of "Addiction Therapy". As a Visiting Fellow she spent 10 months at New York University and 3 months at the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen's University. She is co-chair in the association stsing e.V. and mother of two children.

Areas of Expertise

  • Science and Technology Studies (STS)
  • Applied Ethics: Technology Ethics (Design Ethics, KI Ethics), Information/Security Ethics (Privacy)
  • Ethnography
  • Ethico-political/Cultural Situatedness of Addiction and Addiction Therapy, Addiction by Design
  • Critical Data Studies


My work is situated at the Intersection of Science & Technology Studies and application-oriented Ethics. I hold a Doctor of Philosophy (summa cum laude). Before starting my current position, I was a Research Affiliate at the Sociology Department at Goethe University Frankfurt. Here, I was involved in the interdisciplinary research project “Structural Transformations of Privacy”. I was also a member of the “Lab for Studies of Science and Technology” as well as the working group „Normative Orders of the Internet”.

I held teaching appointments at the “America Institute” at LMU Munich as well as the Goethe University Frankfurt and University of Ulm. I was a visiting fellow at the Center for Surveillance Studies at Queen’s University/Canada (invited by David Lyon) as well as at the New York University, where I was affiliated with the Privacy Research Group (invited by Helen Nissenbaum, Digital Life Initiative) and the Gallatin School for Individualized Studies (invited by George Schulman, NYU).

I am co-chair of the Association for Science and Technology Studies Germany ( and was honorary Equal Opportunity Officer in the Women's Council of FB 03 at Goethe University Frankfurt.

Publications (* = peer-reviewed)

Articles in Academic Journals and Chapters in Edited Volumes

* Problematic Internet Use and Co-Addictive Design. Towards a relational understanding and distributed responsibility [under review, together with Tobias Matzner].


*Disorder, Detox, Design, in: Alexander Taylor/Jennifer Cearns (ed.) The Analogue Idyll. Disconnection, Detox and Departure from the Digital World. Bristol University Press [expected for Apr. 2022, together with Tobias Matzner].



*Diversity by Design. Balancing Protection and Inclusion in Social Networks, in: Conference Proceedings of the German Conference on Artificial Intelligence 2021 [accepted, together with Loizos Michael, Laura Schelenz, already available under].

*Beyond the Prediction Paradigm. Chances and Risks of responsible AI in the fight against Organized Crime, in (Luciano Floridi, Jeff Ward, Cynthia Rudin, eds.): Artificial Intelligence and the Rule of Law. 84 Duke Law and Contemporary Problems. Duke University Press, 1-17 [with Thilo Hagendorff].

*Longing for a Selfless Self and other Ambivalences of Anonymity, in: Anon Collective (ed.): Book of Anonymity. Earth/Milky Way: Punctum Books: 401-423.


Staying with the troubles of infrastructuring stsing: between assemblage and “Verein”, in: EASST Review, 40(2), 2021 [with Estrid Sørensen und Laura Kocksch].


Anonymer Tanz als dekolonialisierende Praxis. Ein Embodied-Research Versuch, in: Koch, Gertraud/Moser, Johannes/Hansen, Lara (Ed.): Welt, Wissen, Design. Hamburger Journal für Kulturanthropologie. Hamburg University Press: 171-185.

Anonymität. Wissen gestalten durch Nicht-Wissen, in: Koch, Gertraud/Moser, Johannes/Hansen, Lara (Ed.): Welt, Wissen, Design. Hamburger Journal für Kulturanthropologie. Hamburg University Press: 168-170.


*Normative paradoxes of privacy. Literacy and choice in platform societies, in: Surveillance & Society, 2020, 18(2): 185-198 [with Sandra Seubert].

*Linking loose ends. An interdisciplinary Privacy and Communication Model, in: New Media & Society, 2020, 22(9): 1-22 [with Katharina Bräunlich, Tobias Dienlin, Johannes Eichenhofer].

Leben im Netz, in: Sonderheft. Leben im Netz. Kuckuck. Notizen zur Alltagskultur, 3-4 [Life in the Net].


Normative Paradoxien der Privatheit in datenökonomischen Zeiten [with Sandra Seubert], in: Borucki, Isabelle/Schünemann, Wolf (Hg.): Internet und Staat. Perspektiven auf eine komplizierte Beziehung. Frankfurt: Nomos, 2019, 81-104.


Myth #45: Privacy is dead [with Katharina Bräunlich, Tobias Dienlin, Johannes Eichenhofer], in: Busted! The Truth About The 50 Most Common Internet Myths, in: Matthias Kettemann, Stephan Dreyer (ed.). Berlin: Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology/Leibniz Institute for Media Research/Hans-Bredow-Institute, 202-206 [translated in 8 Languages].


Reflexionen zu einem social turn in den privacy studies. Sozialwissenschaftliche-rechtliche Perspektiven [with Johannes Eichenhofer], in: Henning, M. et al. (Hg.): Digitalität und Privatheit. Bielefeld: Transcript, 2019, 139-165 [Reflexion on a social turn in privacy studies, in Digitality and Privacy].


*Sobriety versus Abstinence. How 12-Stepper Negotiate Recovery Across Groups, in: Addiction Research & Theory, 2019, 27(1): 29-36.


*Treating sensitive topics online. A privacy dilemma, Ethics & Information Technology, 2018, 20(4): 303-313.

Potentiale und Grenzen der „familienfreundlichen” Hochschule, in: Die Ratsfrau. Journal of the Council for Equal Opportunity, 2018, Vol. 21, [Potentials and challenges of the “family-friendly” University].


*What can Self-Organized Addiction Therapy Groups teach us about Anonymity? In: Ephemera. Theory & Politics in Organization. 2017, 17(2): 327-350.


*Group privacy in Times of Big Data, in: Digital Culture & Society. 2017, 16(2): 137-152.


Privatheit und Demokratie [with Sandra Seubert], in: Forschungsjournal Soziale Bewegungen. 2017(2): 120-124, [Privacy and Democracy].


Transparenz und Anonymität: Potentiale, Irrtümer, Grenzen, in: Forschungsjournal Soziale Bewegungen. 2017(2): 142-152, [Transparency and Anonymity: Potentials, Fallacies, Limits].


*Freiheit durch Anonymität? Privatheitsansprüche, Privatheitsnormen und der Kampf um Anerkennung, in: West-End. Neue Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung, 2016(1): 133-144, [Freedom through Anonymity? Privacy Claims, Privacy Norms, and the Struggle for Recognition].


*Addiction as Emotional Illness: The Testimonies of Anonymous Recovery Groups (2016) in: Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly. 2016, 236(1): 79-91.


Räume und Kulturen des Privaten. Einleitung [with Eva Beyvers, Martin Hennig et al.], in: Beyvers, E., Helm, P. et al. (Hg.): Räume und Kulturen des Privaten. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2016, 1-19.


Die utopischen Sicherheitszwänge Süchtiger und das Wagnis der Anonymität, in: Paragrana. Zeitschrift für Historische Anthropologie, 2015, 24(1): 58-69.


Mythos und Autonomie im Therapieprogramm selbstgeründeter Suchtgenesungsgruppen, in: Zimmermann, Harm-Peer (Hg.): Lust am Mythos. Neuzugänge zu einem populären Phänomen. Marburg: Jonas-Verlag, 2015, 262-270, [Myth and autonomy in the treatment programs of self-organized addiction recovery groups].


Städter im Zwielicht nächtlicher Straßen, in: Kuckuck. Notizen zur Alltagskultur. 2009(2): 103-111, [City dwellers in the twilight of nocturnal excesses].

Full-Length Books
Suchtkultur und Gruppentherapie. Vom anonymen Ich zum anonymen Wir (2016), Wiesbaden: Springer VS. [Anonymity and Autonomy. An ethnography of addiction therapy].
Edited Volumes and Special Issues

Herausgabe des Studentischen Sonderheftes: Leben im Netz (2020). Kuckuck. Notizen zur Alltagskultur.


Die Ratsfrau (2018). Zeitschrift des Gleichstellungsrats. Fachbereich Gesellschaftswissenschaften, Vol. 21 [ed. with Luise Brunner et al.].


Sonderheft: Privatheit und Demokratie (2017). Forschungsjournal Soziale Bewegungen, Vol. 30/2 [ed. with Sandra Seubert].


Räume und Kulturen des Privaten (2016). Wiesbaden: Springer VS [ed. with Eva Beyvers, Martin Hennig], [Spaces and Cultures of Privacy].


Lectures and presentations

Press and Media

Radio-Interview: „Nachrichten sollten zum Handeln bewegen“ Über den Umgang mit der Nachrichtenflut im Internet. ERF Plus, first broadcasting: 10.03.2021,

Co-editor: international, interdisciplinary blog DIGITAL EXHAUSTION [with Alexander Taylor, University of Cambridge/Winchester Media and Text Lab],

Press-Interview: Und es hat ZOOM gemacht. Digitale Erschöpfung in Zeiten von Corona, in: Welt am Sonntag, Issue 20.12.2020.

Blog post: Letters to my children. On intergenerational solidarity in times of existential crises. On: BoasBlogs, Corona Diaries.

Researcher portrait: Sending Life-Stories on more than virtual journeys. Reflections from the archive, in: POEM Newsletter. Participatory Memory Practices. 4/2020.­­­­­

Radio-Interview: Stories of Disconnection, in: Sendung der Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Kulturanthropologie (GEFKA). Radio X Frankfurt, first broadcasting Jan. 7th, 2020.

Report: Generationenkonflikte im Spannungsfeld zwischen Privatheit und Nachhaltigkeit. Ein Design-Thinking Experiment (2020). In: Design Thinking for Privacy. Newsletter des GRK “Privatheit und Digitalisierung”  [with Anne Deremetz, Alix Michell, Julia-Marie Mönig, Eva Beyvers].

Report: On the Quest for Autonomy (2019), in: Ethnologica Europea 115(1), reprinted in:

TV-Interview: Mythos Darknet. Documentary on ZDF Info, first Screening July 2017.

Laudatio: Öffnung des Privaten? Um welchen Preis? Zum 70. Jubiläum des Arbeitskreises für Neue Erziehung, Oct. 2015, Arbeitskreis für Neue Erziehung, ANE e. V.

Radio-Interview: Privacy and Democracy. Deutschlandfunk. Sendung: Aus Kultur- und Sozialwissenschaften. 29.09.2016.

Report: Privatheit als kollektive Herausforderung. Tagungsbericht zu "Privatheit und Demokratie". Theorieblog.

Review: Privacy and Capitalism in the Age of Social Media. Von Sebastian Sevignani, in: kommunikation@gesellschaft, 2017, 17 (3).

Invited Talks

10/2021: “Imaginaries of Artificial Intelligence, why there is no such thing as neutral technology and why we should therefore design technologies with ethical imagination”. MOMO– Philosophical Working Group Berlin. Online.

09/2021: “Ethical Concerns with Diversity Aware Design”. WeNet – The Internet of Us, Engagement Workshop with Batya Friedman.

07/2021: “Why we need an intersectional understanding of generational justice. Learning from Corona.” Debatten unter den Linden, Institute for Political Science, University of Tübingen.

03/2021: Co-Addictive Designs, Problematic Internet Use, and Digital Detox. At: ERC funded research project DISTRACT, The Political Economy of Distraction in digitised Denmark, Copenhagen Center for Social Data Science

02/2021: Confession, Privacy and Data Economic Interests. SFB 1369 Cultures of Vigilance. LMU Munich.

01/2021: Beyond the Prediction Paradigm. Chances and risks of machine learning in criminal prosecution. At: Black Box Artificial Intelligence and the Rule of Law. Digital Ethics Lab, Oxford Internet Institute, invited by Luciano Floridi, Jeff Ward, Cynthia Rudin.

10/2020: AI-Ethics and Criminal Justice. Focus Group. Center for Science and Technology Studies. Leiden University.

08/2020: Partial Dis_Connection. Digital Detox and the Addiction Algorithm. At: The Analogue Idyll, Symposium of the Media, Culture and Text lab. University of Winchester.

04/2020: Stories of Disconnection. RUSTlab Lecture Series, Ruhr University Bochum (virtual).

02/2020: Stigmatized, Intruded, Disempowered? DIY-Therapy Groups in digial_cultures. Workshop of the research project HermA: Automatisierte Modellierung hermeneutischer Prozesse, University of Hamburg.

11/2019: Disconnection Movements. From Digital Detox to Do-it-yourself. Lecture Series: Safe Spaces. The Private and the Public. Institute for Cultural Anthropology, Carl-Franzen’s University Graz.

11/2019: Design Thinking and Prototyping for Privacy Sensitive Technology. Workshop des DFG Graduiertenkollegs „Privatheit und Digitalisierung”, University Passau.

06/2019: Democratizing the Digital. Puzzles, Problems, Paradoxes. Surveillance Studies Centre. Queen’s University/Canada invited by David Lyon.

05/2019: Privacy, Public Responsibility and Democracy. Privacy Online. What have we learned so far? University Hohenheim.

04/2019: Panel Discussant: Democratizing the Digital: Problems, Solutions, Consequences. 41st European Conference on Information Retrieval. University of Cologne.

10/2018: Eine sozialkritische Perspektive auf Privatheitsregime im Umbruch. Staat und Internet. Workshop der NRW School of Governance/Universität Hildesheim.

10/2018: Privatheit und Demokratie. „Wirtschaft trifft Aufsicht”. BvD Datenschutzkonferenz, Stuttgart.

10/2018: Democratizing the Digital. „A=Anonymity”, Abschlusskonferenz des VW-Projektes „Reconfiguring Anonymity”, Universität Hamburg.

06/2017: Gruppenprivatheit in Zeiten von Big Data. Jahrestagung des VW-Projekts "Strukturwandel des Privaten". Universität Koblenz.

05/2017: Rethinking Anonymity. Workshop des VW-Projektes "Reconfiguring Anonymity". Universität Bremen.

04/2017: Emergenz in Zeiten digitaler Allgegenwart, Gruppenprivatheit und Algorithmen. Normative Orders of the Internet. Colloquium des Excellenzcluster Normative Orders. Goethe Universität Frankfurt.

10/2016: Praktiken der Anonymität: Formen und Funktionen.Wissenschaftliches Zentrum für Informationstechnikgestaltung (ITeG), Universität Kassel.

04/2015: On the Relationship between Anonymity and Autonomy. Amsterdam Plattform for Privacy Research. University of Amsterdam, invited by Beate Rössler.

11/2014: Anonymität als Wagnis der Unsicherheit. Gesellschaft für Historische Anthropologie. FU Berlin, invited by Christoph Wulf.

11/2013: Anonymität als dreidimensionales Schutzprinzip. LMU München/Analytical Philosophy.

09/2013: Ethical Dimensions of Anonymity. University of Washington. Center for Internet and Society, invited by Ryan Calo.

05/2013: Poster (with Adam Zaretsky, New York University/Tisch School of Arts): The Evolution of the12-Step Network. Institute for Public Knowledge, New York University. 

04/2013: Anonymity in AA. Privacy Research Group (PRG)/Informational Law Institute (ILI), New York University, invited by Helen Nissenbaum.

12/2012: Poster (mit Sebastian Sowa, TU München): Self-Help Groups - From Addiction to Recognition. International Congress for Social Diversity. University of Santiago de Compostela.

Conference Papers

10/2021: „stsing: Doing STS In, Through And Beyond the German Academic System“, 4S2021: Good Relations - Practices and Methods in Unequal and Uncertain Worlds. At: Toronto [with Ingmar Lippert, Julie Mewes, Estrid Sørensen und Laura Kocksch].

10/2021: *Beyond the Prediction Paradigm. Challenges for AI in the fight against Infrastructural Crime. Society for the Social Studies of Science. Annual Meeting Theme: Good Relations. Practices and Methods and in unequal and uncertain worlds. Online/Toronto [with Thilo Hagendorff].

09/2021: *Diversity by Design. Balancing Protection and Inclusion in Social Networks. German Conference on Artificial Intelligence 2021 [together with Loizos Michael, Laura Schelenz].

10/2021: *Beyond the Prediction Paradigm. Challenges for AI in the fight against Infrastructural Crime. Society for the Social Studies of Science. Annual Meeting Theme: Good Relations. Practices and Methods and in unequal and uncertain worlds. Online/Toronto [with Thilo Hagendorff]. 

09/2021: Diversity by Design. Balancing Protection and Inclusion in Social Networks. German Conference on Artificial Intelligence 2021 [together with Loizos Michael, Laura Schelenz].

08/2020: Disconnection Movements. From Nature versus Technology to TechnoNatureCultures. EASST/4S Locating and Timing Matters: Significance and Agency of STS in Emerging Worlds, Prague University.

10/2019: Anonymer Tanz als postkoloniales Ereignis. 42nd DGV Kongress. University Hamburg.

03/2019: Normative paradoxes of privacy. Literacy and choice in platform societies. Big Data and the Power of Narrative. Danish Association of Science and Technology Studies. IT University Copenhagen.

10/2018: Normative Paradoxes of Privacy. 3rd Amsterdam Privacy Conference, University of Amsterdam.

10/2018: Connectivity versus trust. A privacy dilemma. 3rd Amsterdam Privacy Conference, University of Amsterdam.

09/2018: Privatheit und Demokratie im digitalen Kapitalismus. DVPW Kongress, Goethe Universität Frankfurt.

04/2018: Embedded Privacy Hostility Online. DGV-Working Group „Going Digital”, University of Basel.

10/2015: Privacy in Practice: Social Dimensions of Anonymity. 2nd APC, University of Amsterdam.

06/2013: What the Concept of Anonymity in Self-Help Groups Can Teach Us About Privacy. The 6th Annual Privacy Law Scholars Conference. University of Berkley/CA.


  • Co-chair of stsing, doing science and technology studies in and with Germany,
  • 4S Society for the Social Studies of Science, EASST European Association for Studies of Science and Technology
  • LASST Lab for Studies of Science and Technology,
  • DGV-Sektion “Digitalisierung im Alltag”

(Co-)Organizer of international Conferences, Panels und Workshops

  • 2021: Co-Organizer: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Diversity. We-Net Project’s Engagment Workshop, Keynote: Batya Friedman.
  • 2021: Associate Editor, track: „Information Security, Privacy and Accountability“ (mit Ali Sunyaev, KIT und Jens Grossklags, TUM). 16. Internationale Tagung für Wirtschaftsinformatik Wi 21. Universität Duisburg-Essen.
  • 2021: external co-organizer of international conference: „On Humans and Machines. Human-Machine-Interaction in digital_cultures“ FernUniversitätHagen, Keynotes: Peter-Paul Verbeek, Stefania Milan.
  • 2019: Lead-organizer of the panel “Knowing, not-knowing and designing Anonymity” (mit Michi Knecht). 42nd DGV Conference “World, Knowledge, Design”, Universität Hamburg.
  • 2019: Co-organizer of international conference: “Privacy Online. What have we learned so far?” Appr. 70 participants. Universität Hohenheim.
  • 2018: Lead-organizer of peer-reviewed Panel, Amsterdam Privacy Conference (APC): “The Privacy Paradox Revisited”. University of Amsterdam/NL.
  • 2016: Lead-organizer of international conference: “Privacy and Democracy”, appr. 60 p. Goethe-Universität Frankfurt.
  • 2014: Co-organizer of international conference: “Spaces and Cultures of Privacy”, appr. 40 p. Universität Passau.
  • 2013: Co-organizer of workshop: Collapsing and Constructing Identity (with Heath Bunting). University of Loughborough/UK, funded by Imprints: Identity Management – Public Responses to Identity Technologies and Services.
  • 2013: Co-organizer of workshop: “Rethinking Privacy”, appr. 20 p. Universität Passau.