Digitalization of Sociality


Dr. Susanne Fuchs

Statement of Problem

In recent years, debates on digitialzation have been marked by a growing skepticism. Along with the new opportunities created by digital technologies, their risks and problems have been increasingly addressed. We take this to be an indication of a widespread intuitive conception that crucial changes and developments are in progress in our society: Digitalization will alter basic structural features of our society.

Our starting hypothesis is that modern society is defined by a strong horizontal differentiation. There are different spheres of action and communication, which exist in a non-hierarchical relation. Examples are the economy, politics, law or science. These spheres of action follow each a different logic of action and communication. The concept of the individual human person equally endowed with freedom and dignity can be understood as the structural precondition for horizontal social differentiation and vice versa. That is horizontal differentiation and the individual person equally endowed with freedom and dignity mutually presuppose each other. Digital technologies may endanger this structural constellation, because they allow for creating a knowledge about a person and its social relations, which undermines the segregation of different spheres of action and communication. The underlying problem is indicated by debates on privacy and on the encompassing datafication of individuals.

Our analysis will be directed, on the one hand, towards concrete techno-social phenomena; on the other hand, our analysis will be oriented towards the theory of society, addressing the question how digital transformation will lead to a change of basic structures of modern sociality.


  • Prof. Dr. Yvonne Ehrenspeck-Kolasa, Institut für Pädagogik (Oldenburg)
  • Dr. Michael Viertel, Institut für Pädagogik (Oldenburg)
  • Prof. Dr. Michael Feldhaus, Institut für Sozialwissenschaften (Oldenburg)
  • Dr. Monika Schlegel, Institut für Sozialwissenschaften (Oldenburg)
  • Prof. Dr. Anna Henkel, Institut für Soziologie und Kulturorganisation (Lüneburg)
  • Prof. Dr. Anton Kirchhofer, Institut für Anglistik/Amerikanistik (Oldenburg)
  • Prof. Dr. Gesa Lindemann, Institut für Sozialwissenschaften (Oldenburg)
  • Dr. Christian Fritz-Hoffmann, Institut für Sozialwissenschaften (Oldenburg)
  • M.A. Richard Paluch, Institut für Sozialwissenschaften (Oldenburg)
  • Prof. Dr. Katharina Block, Institut für Sozialwissenschaften (Oldenburg)