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

Junior Research Group

Media Ethics in an Interdisciplinary Perspective - Values and Social Cohesion in New Public Spaces

PD Dr. Jessica Heesen

The junior research group investigates the impact of new forms of public communication in terms of values and norms. The aim is to explore the meaning, significance and foundation of the concepts of solidarity and social cohesion in media ethics.

Concepts of the public sphere and concepts of value correlate with each other: in media ethics and political theory the public sphere is a value in and of itself, while public communication is a precondition for gaining acknowledgement of values. Until the advent of interactive Information and Communication Technology (ICT), public media communication was framed by legislation, broadcasting corporations or editorial staffs, which are characterized by a certain context of values. In contrast, interactive Online Media place the single user in the centre of the communication infrastructure, for example, by way of personalized services, possibilities of individual expression of opinion or other forms of participation.

ICT Systems often use interaction in two different ways: an explicit one (controlled by the user) and an implicit one. The implicit interaction comprises, for instance, the automatic analysis of user behavior and has, like the explicit one, an effect on the perception of the public sphere (e.g. personalization of queries in search engines). Political or rather normative concepts of the public sphere are challenged by both these automatic fabrications of communication as well as new manners of digital collectivization through life style and consumption.

With the help of an interdisciplinary approach, the Research Group examines the processes that unify people or separate them from each other by using ICT and how, under these conditions, new public spaces come into existence. Of utmost importance in this context is the question concerning the function of these spheres of communication in terms of societal cohesion, integration and solidarity in particular.

The junior research group currently works on the following projects:

Privacy-Arena - Exploration project for a cartography and analysis of the Privacy-Arena
Privacy Forum - Privacy Forum and self-determined living in the Digitalized World
'War on YouTube' (dissertation project, Marc Sehr)
Ethical implications of IT-export to sub-Saharan Africa (ELISA). Bridging the digital divide with value-laden technology?

The junior research group is part of the IZEW Department of Ethics and Culture.

PD Dr. Jessica Heesen
Universität Tübingen
Internationales Zentrum für
Ethik in den Wissenschaften (IZEW)
Wilhelmstraße 19
72074 Tübingen

Tel: +49 / 7071 / 2977 - 988 or - 516