zurück zur Startseite

SozSys 9 (2003), H.2



Rudolf Stichweh
The Multiple Publics of Science: Inclusion and Popularization

The paper conceives the popularization of science as a structural effect of processes of inclusion; the universal inclusion of everyone into science being a consequence of the universality and openness of modern science. Popular communications are demonstrated to be a very elementary phenomenon in science, popularization even being present when research results are communicated to a colleague from whom one separates only the distance between two disciplinary knowledge systems. Different modes of popularization (interdisciplinary, pedagogical, political, general) are explained. It is then demonstrated that popularization is not a neutral translation of knowledge into a different linguistic repertoire. Rather, numerous structural effects on science caused by popularization are presented. Finally, an outline of the historical development of popularization is given. A kind of curvilinear movement to be observed: popular communications and communication by amateurs sometimes dominating the premodern system of science in the eighteenth century; then a closure of the system of science in the differentiation of the classical scientific disciplines in the nineteenth century; and finally, as a consequence of the ongoing differentiation and diversification of science since the early twentieth century, a situation in which interdisciplinary contacts and interrelations with nonscientific publics become more important and therefrom results a finely graded system of communication types. Thus the esoteric style of understandings germane to innerdisciplinary discourse is only one in such a plurality of communication forms.

Celia Lury
The Interface of the Brand: Complex Objects and Partial Solutions

This paper will develop the claim that the brand is a complex object. It will put forward the argument that what has come to define the brand in the contemporary era is the organisation and functioning of a set of relations between products in time. It will further be suggested that the organisation of the brand as an interface for the communication of information between producers and consumers. It is the functioning of this interface, which introduces possibility into the abstract thing that is the brand (Massumi 2002). And it is the introduction of possibility that makes the emergence of the brand a significant development in the contemporary economy.

Urs Stäheli
Financial Noises: Inclusion and the Promise of Meaning

This paper aims at writing a history of stock market communication in terms of different forms of noise. It starts with the observation that in the 19th century, the popular semantics of the stock market were fascinated with financial speculation as noisy phenomenon. The paper tries to link these observations of noise to processes of inclusion into speculative communication. It is argued that noise itself, and not only the promise of financial profit, makes financial speculation attractive. Noise becomes a major attraction of financial speculation to those who are not yet included: inclusion becomes a process of dealing and decoding noise. Thus, noise is not simply seen as disturbance or nuisance, but rather as a generator of meaning. The paper explores this question by introducing three short, historical ›case studies‹ which exemplify three different ways of how the noise of the stock exchange becomes crucial to processes of inclusion.

Niels Werber
German Death Star in Orbit. Geopolitics and Globality in German Popular Nazi

The paper raises the question whether popular communication produces individual forms of knowledge about globality and the ›global‹. This »globality of the popular« is a concept that can be found in German science fiction novels of the 1930s and 40s which show divergent forms of the idea of a world society originated in different traditions of geopolitical thought. An extreme but also exemplary form of globality designed by the popular is a German death star in orbit. This geo- and biopolitical instrument appears in science fiction novels which achieved high publication numbers, and these novels foster a specific form of globality, whose symbol is this very death star. This text will sketch a short genealogy of this fatal fusion of globality and popularity in German literature.

Nicolas Pethes
»Thinking Ahead«. Fiction as Prediction in Popular Scripts on Political Scenarios

The paper offers an analysis of the growing influence products of popular culture gain on ›real life‹ political decision making. This influence, memorably depicted by the almost perfect simulation of a war in David Mamet’s 1998 movie Wag the Dog, is based upon specific skills the entertainment industry applies in creating thrilling plots and innovative special effects. The two examples the paper elaborates demonstrate how these skills can increasingly be considered skills of political planning.. The main question is whether this interrelation is merely an import of techniques or whether popular culture is indeed able to predict future scenarios and test the possible reactions to it. In the first example, the US Army collaborates with Hollywood scriptwriters and computer game producers at the Institute for Creative Technology (USC) to create virtual training situations that prepare soldiers for new combat situations. In the second, Tom Clancy’s novel Debt of Honor (1995) develops a scenario for a post-cold war international conflict and, in the final scene of the book, seems to predict the events of 9 / 11. The paper suggests that the reason for this ›prophetic‹ ability is the high speed at which popular culture can make up scenarios for almost any possible conflict of the future. At the same time, popular culture uses clichés and well known topoi that help to imagine and cope with the shocking catastrophes of future politics.

Christina Bartz
Subliminal Masses.The Knowledge of Social Control

Mass media are generally observed with the suspicion that they influence viewers in their attitudes and actions. This criticism requires a re-reading that focuses on the moment of social control that is expressed within it. Mass media appear in journalistic and scholarly discourse not only as a threat for society and the individual, but also as a control mechanism —at least when one considers the remarks critical of the media made using Gustave Le Bons’ model. Le Bons’ theory marks a central reference point in the observation of media. But in establishing this reference, one also brings about an oscillation in the media debates which is already positioned within mass psychology: the mass, or crowd, is easy to influence and therefore can be controlled. But at the same time, the crowd is unpredictable, making control of it both necessary and impossible. This contribution will trace this oscillation in the description of mass media since the Second World War.

Torsten Hahn
Interferences and Interceptors. A Case Study of General Suspicion

The paper offers a discussion of a media event that took place in the Sixties. Central questions ask how far theoretically elaborated concepts of interference and parasite (Shannon/ Serres) can be applied to this seemingly trivial and short-lived incident and what possibilities to discuss a common interference of communication result from this application. First, the role of suspicion in communication processes is defined, which then leads to a framing of the problem connected to the concept of ›noise‹ as dependent on the observer’s position, or more exactly as a function of time. Due to the conception of interference as divalent – i.e. as simultaneously destructive and a constructive – the emergence of a communication system based on the interference’s variety results from the interruption of an ›official‹ routine of communication. This leads to the questions of who ultimately decides what is information and what is noise, and to which position in the diagram of communication this distinction can be attached, i.e. also in how far interference and noise cannot be localized in a clear manner. A message system originates from the elimination of interference of the communication channel. This message system institutionalizes the interference in the sense of suppressing communication – and that makes its functions of eliminating and branching off information (Serres) habitual. Thus, a different model of communication replaces the one of ›noisy communication‹: paradoxically one that marks a certain mode of interference as a basal element of the communication process and that shows the necessity of extending the twofold sender / receiver model to a routine that implies the position of the third.

Rembert Hüser
The Best Year of Our Lives: The 74th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony

In popular communication, ›film‹ is supposed to represent the global. This idea is staged each year anew at one of the most widely watched entertainment events on global television: the Annual Award(s) Ceremony of the Academy of Motion Arts. On March 24, 2002, the first Award Ceremony after September 11, 2001 had a problem. On the one hand it was supposed to play its part in the formation of the national home front. On the other hand the ceremony had to do (global) business as usual and to celebrate the products of an indigenous film industry as the outstanding examples of an universal language of images. To bridge this gap, the ceremony tells its own story as a success story of the integration of outsiders and ties it together with the famous image of a US postwar movie of 1946: the display of the home-coming war veteran’s artificial arm in the front yard of his house.

Georg Stanitzek
»The plastic people will hear nothing but a noice.« Paratexts in Hollywood,The Beatles, Rolf Dieter Brinkmann, et al.

Communication theory usually conceives of noise in terms of »undesirable uncertainty (or, information) vs. desirable uncertainty«. While discussing the question of »popular noise«, this article points to some distinctions which originate in the tradition of hermeneutics and could be understood as predecessors of that disjunction: »Sensus multiplex vs. sensus simplex «, »high vs. low«, and »esoteric vs. exoteric«. Furthermore, the title sequence is given as an example of a popular paratext that aims at an integration of the different perspectives which are indicated by those distinctions.

Heinz Messmer
Form and Coding of the Social Conflict

The present analyses follow the proposition, that causes and environments of social conflicts are quite different with conflict itself – despite the fact that they are frequently mixed. Contrary to the assumptions of traditional theories conflict indicates a highly indigenous social form. The internal structures of this form could be observed and reconstructed differently based on the ongoing communications. Conflict does not simply exists but has to be done. Despite of the principle unlimited possibilities of its constitution, the processes of orderly structure building are highly restricted. In the course of its completion as system, conflict is proceeded within four different forms which make part of a comprehensive esca- lation process and that are structurally rooted in the conditions of opposing sense-selections.

Franz Hoegl
Black Box Beetle: About »Privatheit« and Intransparancy

Wittgenstein has criticized the philosophical concept of »Privatheit« in his Philosophical Investigations from the perspective of the philosophy of language. In Luhmann’s systems theory »intransparency«, that is, the problem that one has no access to the mind of someone else, seems to be analogous to »Privatheit«. Do the epistemological problems (of solipsim and semantical scepticism) implicated by the privatist concept therefore return in systems theory? In my opinion, Luhmann addressed these problems by introducing the notion of »double contingency« in the communication. On the basis of a systematic comparison between the two terms »Privatheit« and »intransparency«, I argue that the model of »double contingency« is not necessarily bound to the concept of »Privatheit«. The systems-theoretical construction of double contingency even provides a way to formulate Wittgenstein’s argumentation against privatist scepticism without reference to the postulation of an integrative function of ordinary language.

zum Seitenanfang