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Information, Policy, and Power in the Informational State

27 Mar 2007

While information policy is among the most ancient forms of governance, there has been a phase change, ‘a change of state’, in the extent to which governments exercise power by deliberately, explicitly, and consistently controlling information creation, processing, flows, and use. Changes in the law, in the subject of the law, and in how we think about the law can result in a change in the very nature of the state itself because the institutions, processes, and policies of any given political form are but a moment of stability within a much wider, more diffuse, and constantly shifting policy field.

Three types of knowledge must be brought together to understand just how this change of state has come about and what it means for the exercise of power domestically and globally: in addition to knowledge of the law itself, research on the empirical world provides evidence about the policy subject (the world for which information policy is made) and social theory provides an analytical foundation. Bringing these types of knowledge together makes visible trends in the identities of the state and of its citizens; social, technological, and informational structures; the borders of those structures; and the ways in which those structures change.

In her talk, Sandra explores ways in which currents in information policy across traditional legal silos combine to affect society in each of these areas, looking both at the US as a case and global resonances with these trends. She concludes with an examination of the implications of these developments for analysis of internet policy.


Professor Sandra Braman

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Professor Sandra Braman has been doing research on the macro-level effects of digital technologies and their policy implications for over two decades. Recent work includes Change of State: Information, Policy, and Power (MIT Press, 2006) and the edited volumes The Emergent Global Information Policy Regime (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), Biotechnology and Communication: The Meta-Technologies of Information (Erlbaum, 2004), and Communication Researchers and Policy-Making (MIT Press, 2003). With Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation support, Braman has been working on problems associated with the effort to bring the research and communication policy communities more closely together. She has published over four dozen scholarly journal articles, book chapters, and books; served as book review editor of the Journal of Communication; is former Chair of the Communication Law and Policy Division of the International Communication Association; and sits on the editorial boards of nine scholarly journals.

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