The Construction of a new Policy Domain in Debates on German Internet Policy


Within the past two decades, the emergence of a new policy domain has become evident in several countries. One example is Germany, where the political parties appointed spokespeople for Internet policy and a standing parliamentary committee for a “digital agenda” has been established. In this paper, the question of how political actors are constructing the new domain of Internet policy is addressed with an empirical analysis. While briefly describing the underlying theoretical framework, it is argued that the development of the new policy domain can be understood as a process of “collaborative meaning making” (Fligstein & McAdam, 2012). During this process, networks of political actors settle for a shared understanding regarding the societal problems that give reason to state intervention and the form this intervention may take. The empirical study is focused on the first debates on German Internet policy. Two text corpora containing parliamentary minutes and articles of five major newspapers are analyzed using close as well as distant reading techniques. The results show how political actors established a shared understanding regarding the policy domain and how this resulted in its particular governmental institutionalization.

European Policy Analysis 3(1)
Dr. Abel Reiberg
Postdoctoral Researcher

My research interests include internet governance, platform regulation and textmining.