Workshop “Digital Living, Digital Infrastructuring”: Final Program & Keynote Livestream

Workshop Program:

The final program for our workshop “Digital Living, Digital Infrastructuring”, 1315 September 2021 in Graz is now available:

Download the Final Program


Monday, 13 September, 16:30-18:00 CET
Katharina Kinder-Kurlanda (University of Klagenfurt): Digital STS

Tuesday, 14 September, 16:30-18:00 CET
Nina Klimburg-Witjes (University of Vienna): Sensing In/Security: Sensors as transnational security infrastructures 

Both keynotes will be streamed and can be attended via:

We hope to (virtually) welcome many of you there!



Registration Open: ”Digital Living, Digital Infrastructuring”, September 13-15, Graz

We are happy to announce that registration for the STS Austria Workshop ”Digital Living, Digital Infrastructuring” which takes place from 13-15 September in Graz, is now open.
You may download the preliminary program here.
Registration fees are € 50 for regular participants/€ 20 for students and participants with no regular income. There is a € 10 discount for STS Austria members.
Although we will be able to organize the workshop on-site, please note that due to current COVID-regulations, we only have limited spaces available. In addition, Austrian regulations requires participants to carry proof of a recent PCR test, vaccination, or recovery from an infection, as well as to wear a face mask.
In case you would like to participate, please get in touch via for further details.
In spite of the limitations we still have to work with, we hope to be able to welcome you to Graz!
Best wishes
The organizing committee


Call for Papers: “Digital Living, Digital Infrastructuring”

Workshop STS Austria, 13-15 September 2021, Graz:
Digital Living, Digital Infrastructuring

Call for Papers

Science and Technology Studies has repeatedly shown that the social, cultural, technological and political conditions of research, knowledge production and innovation processes are being re-shaped through the digitization of data, the virtualization of communication and collaboration, and the design of underlying infrastructures. The COVID-19 pandemic has, however, drawn new attention to the role of digital infrastructures in private and public life. Politics, work, education, research, and everyday life now rely on virtual spaces and digital online platforms. The increased visibility of our dependence on digital infrastructures has made it clear that access to and control of such infrastructures are unequally distributed, both within Austrian society and internationally. While these infrastructures both contribute to new forms of social change and stabilize existing social relations, they invoke changing forms of individual and collective agency through invitations to participate, collaborate, trade, rate, comment, and share. Yet due to the private nature of digital infrastructures available to the general public, they largely remain outside of democratic control.

Starting from this heightened awareness of the role of digital infrastructures, this workshop will offer an opportunity to reflect on STS scholarship on the digital and to advance theoretical work on infrastructuring and digital practices. The concept of infrastructuring evokes doing as a metaphor and refers to the phenomenon that digital infrastructures emerge dynamically and surprisingly, and are at the same time stable and fragile. We are interested in conceptual and empirically grounded perspectives on the digital and digital infrastructuring that consider its dynamics in relation to human subjectivities as well as broader questions of politics, power and social order. We propose to address digital practices and infrastructuring around themes such as:

  • The wider sociotechnical networks surrounding digital tools and platforms (including large international platforms such as Google, Amazon, Alibaba, Tencent, or Zoom) in fields as diverse as research, social media, public administration, and others;
  • The creation of new global and local realities of governance and communication – ranging from the ubiquitous means of holding online meetings to the increased digitization of government services;
  • The multiple controversies, tensions, and disruptions that are emerging around (private) digital infrastructures, including, for example, privacy and discrimination concerns around facial recognition, or delays in COVID-infection data collection and (online) presentation.We specifically invite contributions that explore such themes from diverse methodological starting points, ranging from ethnographic studies of micro-practices to perhaps more abstract macro studies of (global) power relations.

We invite anyone interested in presenting a paper contributing to STS perspectives on digital practices and infrastructures to send an abstract (max. 300 words) to STS Austria by 6 June 2021. We will send out notifications of acceptance by 30 June.

We aim for a hybrid online/offline format. Although we would prefer participants to be part of the full workshop, a hybrid format allows for participation from people who will not be able to travel to Graz (for Covid or other reasons).

The workshop will be a three-day event, starting in the afternoon of September 13 (CET) and ending in the morning of September 15 (CET), to allow people to travel to and from Graz before and after the workshop.

Interaktives Symposium: Leben mit Corona

Von 29. Juni bis 1. Juli findet am Institut für Höhere Studien das interdisziplinäre Symposium “Leben mit Corona” statt, zu dem Sozialwissenschafter*innen verschiedener Disziplinen eingeladen wurden, um ausgehend von aktuellen Forschungsergebnissen im Dialog mit Vertreter*innen öffentlicher Institutionen zu diskutieren, wie sich das Leben in Österreich mit Corona gestaltet und welche weiteren Forschungsfragen sich in Bezug auf gegenwärtige und zukünftige Herausforderungen der Pandemie stellen.

Das Symposium findet am IHS statt, alle Sessions werden live im Internet übertragen.

Programm, Anmeldung und weitere Informationen



New board members elected & STS Austria Prize awarded at annual business meeting

After a successful two-year period in which STS Austria held its second conference and launched several initiatives supporting students and early career researchers in STS, a new board was elected at the annual business meeting on February 25, 2020.

Max Fochler and Karen Kastenhofer will step down from their positions as president and treasurer after four years of board membership, in accordance with STS Austria’s bylaws. Florentine Frantz and Erich Grießler will also leave the board after this period. We wish to thank all of them for their initiative and dedication in helping to further establish STS Austria during the past years. We are also pleased that a number of new members are taking over positions on the board this year. The members of the newly elected board are:

Erik Aarden (Uni Wien): Kassier/ treasurer
Doris Allhutter (ITA)
Daniel Barben (AAU, Klagenfurt): Obmann/ president
Petra Schaper-Rinkel (Uni Graz): Stv. Obfrau / vice-president
Helene Sorgner (AAU, Klagenfurt): Schriftführerin/ secretary
Shauna Stack (Uni Wien/IHS): Nachwuchswissenschaftlerin/ junior scientist
Florian Winkler (UniWien/IHS): Nachwuchswissenschaftler/ junior scientist

This year’s annual business meeting ended with the celebration of the excellent scholarship of young researchers in STS, as the first STS Austria Prize for Early Career Publications was awarded to Ruth Falkenberg, Nils Matzner and Andrea Schikowitz.

You can read more about their work and other outstanding publications by early career researchers in STS here.

One of the missions of STS Austria is to support and promote events which improve scholarly communication and exchange in the field and integrate junior researchers in STS.

If you have an idea for an event or an initiative supporting these goals, let us know!



STS Austria Prize awarded to three outstanding early-career publications

We are happy to announce that the first STS Austria Prize for the best publications by early career researchers will be awarded to Ruth Falkenberg, Nils Matzner and Andrea Schikowitz. Among the many high-quality submissions received, the following publications were selected for their outstanding theoretical contributions, societal relevance, and quality of writing:

Ruth Ingeborg Falkenberg (2019): Downward-facing dog meets randomised controlled trial: Investigating valuations in medical yoga research. (Master’s thesis, Universität Wien)

Nils Matzner (2019): Governance und Verantwortung bei Climate Engineering. (PhD Dissertation, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt)

Andrea Schikowitz (2017): Choreographies of Togetherness.
Re-Ordering Collectivity and Individuality in Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research in Austria
(PhD Dissertation, Universität Wien)

The STS Austria Prizes are endowed with EUR 500 each and will be awarded during the next STS Austria Business Meeting, taking place February 25 in Vienna:


Abstracts of awarded publications:

Ruth Ingeborg Falkenberg (2019): Downward-facing dog meets randomised controlled trial: Investigating valuations in medical yoga research

Foto: Ruth Falkenberg

In my thesis, I examine how medical researchers bring together yoga and modern biomedicine in the framework of randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Building on the assumption that setting up a research design involves different acts of valuation, I investigate the situated valuations that researchers perform in negotiating the encounter between yoga and biomedicine methodologically as well as theoretically. Moreover, I reconstruct how these concrete valuations are related to broader institutional, structural, and discursive regimes of valuation. Theoretically, my thesis thus brings together the investigation of research in the fields of biomedicine and complementary and alternative medicine from the perspective of Science and Technology Studies with a Valuation Studies inspired approach. Methodologically, I approached my research questions through qualitative interviews with researchers conducting RCTs on yoga, which were informed by an exploratory document analysis.

In my thesis, I show that yoga manifests in medical research as a multiplicity. I reconstruct five regimes of valuation influencing the researchers’ work, where especially two regimes related to evidence-based medicine (EBM) and biomedical knowledge seem to strongly influence the researchers’ practices. Within this framework, researchers value both more and less comprehensive forms of yoga for different reasons, and they tinker with yoga on a practical and on a theoretical level, thus adapting yoga and its explanations to different contexts. Similarly, they tinker with methodology in various ways, thereby making it possible to investigate yoga in the RCT framework and simultaneously doing justice to their appreciation of methodological diversity beyond the normative ‘gold-standard’.

Overall, my thesis highlights the dominance of the methodological framework of EBM and of biomedical understandings, while also illustrating the multiplicity of values that exists in medical yoga research, and the innovative potential that is inherent to heterarchical constellations of worth, were different valuations exist alongside each other. My work thus problematizes crude hierarchical orderings of worth, of methods, and of knowledge in medical research, and emphasises the benefits that seem to arise from giving room to more complex valuations.


Nils Matzner (2019): Governance and Responsibility of Climate Engineering

Foto: Nils Matzner

The international climate target of two, if possible 1.5°C global warming puts climate policy underpressure. The target might not be met without employing some high-risk methods of climate engineering (CE) which gain ever more attention in climate political discourses since more than a decade. CE is defined as the deliberate intervention into the climate system in order to reduce global warming. This includes technologies such as the injection of sulfur aerosols into the upper atmosphere and fertilizing the ocean for enhanced carbon uptake. On the one hand, CE offers the chance to reduce global warming while on the other hand, it comes with major risks and uncertainties.

The emerging CE technologies demand certain forms of governance and responsibility. Governance of CE deals with problems of a yet underdeveloped international regulation. Anticipatory Governance in particular offers a strategy for capacity building for a forward looking and reflexive way of dealing with CE. Furthermore, science, policy, and civil society are confronted with various questions of responsibility concerning CE. Whereas responsible research and innovation remains a huge task, broader questions of ethical, legal and political responsibility arise. The six articles presented in this cumulative dissertation deal with these questions. The methodology is largely oriented on discourse research, but also on social simulations and theoretical argumentation.

The results are discussed in relation to the German priority program for CE (SPP 1689) funded by the German Research Foundation. The SPP 1689 started as a responsibility initiative and dealt with various governance and responsibility problems. The analysis of the SPP and CE discourses aids to develop anticipatory governance and responsible research in order to mitigate negative consequences of CE.


Andrea Schikowitz (2017): Choreographies of Togetherness.
Re-Ordering Collectivity and Individuality in Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research in Austria

Foto: Andrea Schikowitz

For more than twenty years debates on which kind of knowledge is needed for adequately dealing with overarching environmental and sustainability challenges have been going on. It is claimed that opening up science towards societal problems and different kinds of knowing, as well as engaging in new relations and forms of togetherness with different actors is inevitable. This conviction has entered ever new initiatives and programs aiming at fostering new and more open kinds of knowledge pro-duction, as well as a body of literature dealing with its principles and applications. Transdisciplinarity is such an approach that does not only demand collaboration across disciplinary boundaries but also an integration of extra-scientific actors into the research process.

However, in spite of a continuous expression of political will of and conceptual preoccupation with inclusive, collective and process-oriented forms of research, it can be asked if a broader transformation of knowledge production can be observed in practice. In turn, what has increasingly entered contemporary science is a focus on individual productivity of researchers, primarily measured according to the amount of standardized output (mostly publications). Thus, currently researchers are in a tension between claims of collective and open research on the one hand, and the requirement to succeed individually within increasing competition on the other hand.

For understanding how new forms of knowledge production are translated into practice (or not), I thus investigate how researchers imagine their opportunities within a tension of collective research and individual assessment and how they cope with it in their working practices. Analytically, I focus on ‘choreographies of togetherness’, understood as modes of coping with tensions and incoherence between different be-longings and different collective and individual practices. Choreographies can be regarded as practices that stabilise or change social orders. In this way, also non-linear and unintended effects of changing demands and organization of knowledge production get accessible for analysis.

The empirical case is a huge Austrian research program in the area of transdisciplinary sustainability research that elevated the integration of extra-scientific actors into research to a central funding criteria. Besides analysing different program and project documents, interviews and focus groups with project participants were conducted and ethnographic observations in project meetings took place.



Workshop: Ignorance and non-knowledge: what consequences for democratic governance, politics and policy?

When: November 13-14, 2018
Where: Marietta-Blau-Saal, University of Vienna, Universitätsring 1, 1010 Vienna

Confirmed keynote speakers:
Linsey McGoey (University of Essex),
Matthias Gross (University of Jena, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ),
Stefan Böschen (RWTH Aachen),
Ulrike Felt (University of Vienna, Department of Science and Technology Studies).

Download Workshop Programme

About the workshop:
Ignorance and non-knowledge have become the subject of a growing body of research in the social sciences and humanities, giving rise to a new “sociology of ignorance.” In this line of thought, ignorance is not merely a consequence of the limits of our knowledge practices, but a knowledge practice in its own right. Concepts such as McGoey’s ‘strategic unknowns’ also challenge the assumption that power thrives only on information: In this perspective, ignorance and non-knowledge are often actively produced, cultivated, and exploited as a resource and a strategy.

While engagements with ignorance and non-knowledge have become more salient over the past decade, there are different conceptual understandings of these phenomena across disciplines. To begin with, sociologists of ignorance have highlighted the importance of nonknowledge practices as a resource for industry actors. Moreover, political sociologists, such as Matthias Gross, have recently made more explicit links between Beck’s concept of ‘risk society’, ignorance studies, and contemporary governance of risks and security. From a slightly different perspective, political scientists approach uncertainty – sometimes termed ‘contingency’ – as an inherent condition or even mechanism of governance, rather than an instrumentally negotiated outcome of governance.

This workshop takes these different understandings and concepts as points of departure and seeks to spark an interdisciplinary dialogue. In doing so, we seek to enhance our understanding of non-knowledge practices and their consequences for democratic governance, politics and policy. Specific questions of interest are:

• What relevance do different understandings of ignorance, contingency and uncertainty have for the study of governance?
• What practices of governing unknowable or unknown objects, and futures, can be discerned empirically?
• What strategies of action or inaction do non-knowledge and/or uncertainty provoke on the part of governance actors, and where and how can we identify such strategies?
• How do non-knowledge practices challenge or reinforce governance practices?
• What taxonomies of knowledge practices emerge in particular case studies and policy areas, and what do these practices mean for our understandings of governance in contemporary democracies?
• How are unknowns and uncertainties currently addressed in different policy arenas and research practices, and with what consequences?

Participation & Registration
Attendance of the workshop is free. Please sign up by emailing us at by 31 October and let us know which parts of the workshop you wish to attend.


Wann: Dienstag, 13 November 2018, 18:00 – 19:30
Wo: Alte Kapelle, Campus, Spitalgasse 2, University of Vienna

Wissenswert(e) Demokratie: Was hat Nichtwissen in evidenzbasierter Politik zu suchen?*

Klassische Modelle von demokratischer Politikgestaltung sind untrennbar mit der Vorstellung verbunden, dass politische Maßnahmen sich auf das beste vorhandene Wissen gründen sollten. Dass neben Wissen auch Werte und Ideologie Politikgestaltung färben, sehen BefürworterInnen von evidenzbasierter Politik oft als Störfaktor. Ebenso wird Nichtwissen häufig als Leerraum betrachtet, den es mit neuem Wissen zu füllen gilt. Diese Podiumsdiskussion versucht, die Rolle von Nichtwissen in der Politikgestaltung aus anderen Perspektiven zu beleuchten. Den Ausgangspunkt dafür bildet die These, dass Nichtwissen integraler Bestandteil jeder Wissensschöpfung ist, eine strategische Rolle spielen kann und damit auch mancher politischen Unentschlossenheit entgegenkommt. Wer entscheidet, was wissenswert ist, und wie gehen wir mit diesen „Wissenswerten“ in demokratischer Politikgestaltung um? Inwiefern lassen sich wissenssoziologische Thesen überhaupt mit dem Paradigma evidenzbasierter Politik vereinbaren?

Keynote: Matthias Gross „Die Evidenz für Nichtwissen“

Matthias Gross (University of Jena, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ)
Stefan Böschen (RWTH Aachen)
Ulrike Felt (Universität Wien)

Moderation: Katharina T. Paul

* Diese Podiumsdiskussion findet statt im Rahmen des internationalen Workshops „Ignorance and Non-knowledge: what consequences for democratic governance, politics, and policy?”

The workshop is organised by Katharina T. Paul, Ingrid Metzler, Erik Aarden (University of Vienna), and Helene Sorgner (AAU Klagenfurt). The Key Research Area ‘Knowledge societies in turbulent times’ (Faculty of Social Sciences) of the University of Vienna has generously agreed to co-fund the workshop, and additional funding will come from the FWF Austrian Science Fund (Grant #VA561), the Department of Political Science and STS Austria.