Prof. Dr. Friedrich Krotz
ZeMKI, University of Bremen

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Scopic Media: A Comparative Study of their Constitution, Use and Implications for Theories of Interaction and Global Society

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Karin Knorr Cetina

Project assistants: Stefan Beljean, Ph.D. Vanessa Dirksen, Niklas Woermann

The goal of this project is a comparative study of the production, functioning and consequences of scopic media for a theory of global social forms in areas such as global finance, the military, medicine, extreme sports and telepresence-based interaction. The areas of study were selected to represent global, collective-national, interactional and bodily levels of scopic media use. ‘Scopic media’ are screen-based technologies of observation and projection that render distant and invisible phenomena situationally present, unfold remote spaces and information worlds, and shift the boundaries between situation/system and the environment. Our hypothesis is that scopic media transform social situations into synthetic situations, replace face-to-face relations by face-to-screen relations and network coordination by scopic forms of coordination. Scopic media imply that there are alternatives to the network society the frequently literature assumes as a consequence of the increasing dominance of information and communication technologies in all areas of social life. The synthetic situation is potentially a basic component and unit of global social forms. Research in this area will contribute to a theory of global society, while at the same time expanding our repertoire of microsciological concepts such that they become more adequate for the analysis of global forms, flow processes and fateful expansions of social situations.


Research field: Action and interaction forms



Dirksen, Vanessa/ Huizing, Ard/ Smit, Bas (2010): Piling on Layers of Understanding: the Use of Connective Ethnography for the Study of (Online) Work Practices. In: New Media & Society, 12 (7), pp. 1045-1063.

Knorr Cetina, Karin (2013): Scopic Coordination. In: Lundby, Knut (Ed.): Handbook on Mediatization of Communication. Handbooks of Communication Sciences, 21. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, forthcoming.

Knorr Cetina, Karin (2012): Skopische Medien: Am Beipiel der Architektur von Finanzmärkten. In: Hepp, Andreas/ Krotz, Friedrich (Eds.): Mediatisierte Welten: Beschreibungsansätze und Forschungsfelder. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag, pp. 167-195.

Knorr Cetina, Karin (2012): What is a Financial Market? Global Markets as Microinstitutional Social Forms. In: Knorr Cetina, Karin/ Preda, Alex (Eds.): Handbook of the Sociology of Finance. Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming.

Knorr Cetina, Karin (2009): The Synthetic Situation: Interactionism for a Global World. In: Symbolic Interaction, 32 (1), pp. 61-87.

Knorr Cetina, Karin (2005): Complex Global Microstructures. The New Terrorist Societies. In: Theory, Culture and Society, 22 (5), pp. 213-234.

Knorr Cetina, Karin (2003): From Pipes to Scopes: The Flow Architecture of Financial Markets. In: Distinktion. Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory, 7, pp. 7-23.

Woermann, Niklas (2012): Die unmögliche De-Visualisierung von Wissen - Über einige Sehpraktiken einer extremen Gemeinschaft. In: Lucht, P./ Schmidt, L.-M./ Tuma, R. (Eds.): Visuelles Wissen und Bilder des Sozialen. Aktuelle Entwicklungen in der visuellen Soziologie. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag, pp. 87-103.

Woermann, Niklas (2012): On the Slope is on the Screen. Prosumtion, Social Media Practices and Scopic Systems in the Freeskiing Subculture. In: American Behavioral Scientist 56(4): pp. 618640.

Woermann, Niklas (2011): Innovation – Coordination and Evolution through Media Systems. In: Woermann, Niklas: Seeing Style. Intelligibility, Visual Order, and Social Practices. Dissertation at the University St. Gallen, pp. 479-517.



Beljean, Stefan: The Soldier of the Future: An Essay about Powerful New Technologies and the Power of Myth. Presentation at the Annual Interdisciplinary Humanities Graduate Student Conference "Soldiering: The Afterlife of a Modern Experience", 2011-04-22 until 2011-04-23 at The Humanities Center at Harvard University, held 2011-04-23. 

Dirksen, Vanessa: Scopic media - Brain Imaging Technologies. Presentation at the SPP-Workshop „Handlungs- und Interaktionsformen“, 2011-12-21 until 2011-12-22 in Konstanz, held 2011-12-21.

Dirksen, Vanessa: Scopic Media and Telepresence: an Empirical Investigation of the Synthetic Situation. Presentation at the international conference "Mediatized Worlds: Culture and Society in a Media Age", 2011-04-13 until 2011-04-15 in Bremen, held 2011-04-15.

Knorr Cetina, Karin: Skopische Medien. Presentation at the „eikones“-Jahrestagung „Welterzeugung durch Bilder“, 2011-11-17 until 2011-11-19 in Basel, held 2011-11-18.

Knorr Cetina, Karin: KoEvolution der Aufmerksamkeit. Presentation at the conference Ko-Evolution, 2011-09-14 until 2011-09-16 in Frankfurt am Main, held 2011-09-15.

Knorr Cetina, Karin: Theorizing the Market as an Organization outside Organizations. Presentation at the ASA Theory Panel on Organizations, 106th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, 2011-08-20 until 2011-08-23 in Las Vegas, held 2011-08-22.

Knorr Cetina, Karin: Maverick Markets. Presentation at the 23rd Annual Meeting der Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics, 23.06.2011-06-23 until 2011-06-25 in Madrid, held 2011-06-25.

Knorr Cetina, Karin: Synthetische Weltgesellschaft? Aspekte der medialen Grundlage von Vergleich und Welt. Presentation at the plenum ‘"Mikrostrukturen transnationaler Vergesellschaftung" of the Annual Conference of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziologie, 2010-10-11 until 2010-10-15 in Frankfurt am Main, held 2010-10-13.

Woermann, Niklas: Screen realities, synthetic situations, and scopic media. Session chair and organizer at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) and the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST) conference 2012, 2012-10-17 until 2012-10-20 in Copenhagen.

Woermann, Niklas: Arenas of Style. Dissemination and Deliberation of Style in face-to-face versus screen-mediated social encounters. Presentation and Workshop at the Consumption Studies Research Group of the University of Southern Denmark, 26-06-2012 in Odense.

Woermann, Niklas: Reading Faces, Seeing Lines. On the Epistemic and Aesthetic Work of Extreme Sport Athletes. Presentation at the 10th Conference of the International Institute for Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis, 2011-07-11 until 2011-07-14 in Fribourg, held 2011-07-13.

Woermann, Niklas: Timeflow in Consumption Practices: Conceptualizing Temporality in two Lifestyle Sports (with Joonas Rokka). Presentation at the CCT6 Consumer Culture Theory Conference at the Northwestern University, 2011-07-07 until 2011-07-10  in Chicago, held 2011-07-09.

Woermann, Niklas: Towards a Mediatization of Seeing? On the Impact of Online Media Practices on Offline Practices of Seeing. Presentation at the Conference “Mediatized Worlds: Culture and Society in a Media Age”, 2011-04-15 in Bremen.

Woermann, Niklas: Die unmögliche De-Visualisierung von Wissen. Über einige Sehpraktiken einer extremen Gemeinschaft. Presentation at the conference “Visualisierung von Wissen und Bilder des Sozialen“ at the Technische Universität Berlin, 2011-04-09 in Berlin.

Woermann, Niklas: How to See ‘Showing off’ – Material Aspects of the Visual Production and Perception of Identities. Presentation at the 3rd ESA European Sociological Association RN Sociology of Culture mid-term Conference at the Università Bocconi, 2010-10-08 in Milan.