Accepted Paper:

'Digital Integration of Immigrants': localising and personalizing German ICT-policy  
Oliver Hinkelbein (University of Bremen)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explores German ICT-policy concerned with the 'digital integration of immigrants'. Based on ethnographic data it demonstrates how mediators (eg social workers, bureaucrats) are involved in the process of policy-making and it shows how local ICT-policy is planned and brought into practice.

Paper long abstract:

My paper explores the results of a three years study on the making and bringing into action of German ICT-policy concerned with the so called digital integration of immigrants. The main focus is on personalities that are part of policymaking processes. The paper demonstrates how mediators like bureaucrats, politicians, social workers and NGO-representatives - cultural producers, to use G.E. Marcus words - are involved in the powerful process of policymaking. Based on ethnographic data from two German cities - Esslingen and Hannover - I show how local ICT-policy is planed, organised and brought into practice. The two cases are differing quiet remarkable. On the one hand policymaking in Esslingen is forced by the city and state authorities. In Hannover, on the other hand, the goal to integrate immigrants by the use of new media is driven by NGO's.

The first part of my paper shows the important role of so called think tanks for both localities. In practice think tanks are networks of personalities, which are mediators in different ways. Within networks (think tanks) mediators share their ideas, motivations, goals and ideologies. Their practices are characterized as interrelations and are shaped by processes of communication, discussion and representation. Through different practices and influenced by power relations between personalities, "digital integration of immigrants" is created as part of local ICT-policy. For that reason I work out positions, views and standpoints of personalities that are part of local policymaking as mediators. Furthermore the local (egovernance-) configurations will be shown as result of policy practices and the impact of power relations. With respect to that my paper shows how and in which ways the process of local policymaking is to be seen as a result of various personalities, their (inter)relations and power relations. To conclude that part I regard think tanks (networks of personalities) as driving force in local policymaking. The second part of my paper demonstrates through ethnographic examples how the policy of digital integration is brought into action in Esslingen and Hannover. The main focus here is to compare state- and NGO-approaches. Although this paper is concerned with the local level of ICT policymaking, the final part will show its embeddednes in national as well as in European contexts. As a concluding note, the paper shows the impact of national and European processes on local practices. Concerning that, the important role of mediators on the European level and their relations to the local level will be worked out. This shows processes of ICT policymaking in the light of local, national and European interrelations of personalities, institutions and organisations.

Panel W039
New mediators: culture, policy and practice in electronic governance and government