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Unsicherheit trotz Sicherheitstechnik? Das Kreuz mit komplexen Konstellationen

Insecurity in spite of technologies of safety and surveillance? The paradoxical consequences of complex constellations
[working paper]

Rammert, Werner

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Corporate Editor Technische Universität Berlin, Fak. VI Planen, Bauen, Umwelt, Institut für Soziologie Fachgebiet Techniksoziologie
Abstract "Modern societies have massively invested in technologies that enforce safety, such as sensors, satellites, CCTV cameras, body scans, data mining and profiling software. In recent decades, digital technologies and communication media have pushed local systems of private control and public safe-guarding into transnational spaces of monitoring and surveillance. Surprisingly, the troubles with, and the costs of, deficiencies, accidents, data crimes, terroristic acts or catastrophic events, have not been reduced. On the contrary, the objective scope of risk and the subjective sense of insecurity seem to have increased. The contribution provides an answer to the question of why increasing technologies of safety does not automatically lead to an increased safety. As far as the social practices and processes of designing and instituting new technologies are concerned, this contribution argues further that a) the belief in 'ruly technology' b) the under-estimation of unplanned interferences in highly complex systems, and c) the neglect of human interagency within constellations of distributed agency can be made responsible for the perverse effects under certain conditions. Concerning the practices and institutions of securing social life, it is further argued that the ambiguity of what is called 'safety' or 'security', namely to care or to control, gives rise to a) an overwhelming material diversity of securing activities, b) a social fragmentation of interested actors and specialized views and c) a temporal and cultural variability of the scale of tolerable risk and of dangers that could and should be avoided. To conclude, the author gives some maxims and hints to politicians, researchers, designers, and managers of security systems on how to cope with the demonstrated paradoxes. They underline the openness of constellations and the experimental adaptation between diverse systems, instead of building perfectly pre-planned and closed systems. They prefer reflexive interactions and translations between different cultures of security, instead of unifying formalization and strong coupling." (author's abstract)
Keywords security; risk; engineering; complexity; monitoring; new technology; mechanization; effects of technology; sociology of technology; risk assessment; safety research
Classification Sociology of Science, Sociology of Technology, Research on Science and Technology; Technology Assessment
Free Keywords Überwachungsgesellschaft; technische Systeme
Document language German
Publication Year 2014
City Berlin
Page/Pages 31 p.
Series TUTS - Working Papers, 1-2014
Status Primary Publication; reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works