Julia Pohle

Julia Pohle

  • Berlin Social Science Center (WZB)
  • The Internet Policy Field
Participant in 2010
Work history UNESCO, Paris
Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Berlin Social Science Center (WZB)
Study history Universität Bremen
Università di Bologna
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Phd Projects


The intellectual and diplomatic role of UNESCO in international communication politics at the beginning of the digital age

The thesis analyses the intellectual and diplomatic role of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in international communication politics during the last decade of the 20th century. It thereby focuses on the phase in which digital information and communication technologies became real mass media as a consequence of the Internet’s breakthrough in the 1990s. In this phase, UNESCO, like other actors involved in communication politics, had to redefine its role in the new global governance structures and at the same time develop new discourses and concepts of ICTs. For a better understanding of UNESCO’s position as it relates to the research focus, the thesis is introduced by a historical review of the fundamental strategies of UNESCO in the field of communication since its inception. The historical background and the particular diplomatic context of the time provide a framework for discussion of the organization’s debates concerning the question of access to information in societies that are increasingly driven by digital technology. The aim of the project is to develop a precise understanding of UNESCO’s intellectual and diplomatic reaction to the arrival of the digital technology. To achieve this aim, the project will assess the organization’s internal and external debates and strategies concerning the possibilities and risks these new media incur. Based on the methods of discourse analysis, the main part of the research consists of an evaluation of selected documents related to UNESCO’s activities in the field of communication during the 1990s. Taking into account the particular interdisciplinary approach of the project, the discourse analysis combines with other methods of qualitative research, in particular techniques of expert interviewing. The empirical research will be guided and complemented by a double theoretical framework. The theoretical and socio-historical reflections on the phenomenon of the information society will be used as backdrop for the discussion of the documents and interviews. In addition, the empirical analysis will be embedded in the debate on the changing structures of governance in international communication politics and the new role given to intergovernmental organizations within that system. Grounded in an appraisal of the different ‘Information Society’ theories and the discourses about ‘Global Governance’ in the field of communication, the theoretical aim of the project is to assess UNESCO’s role not only as an actor in communication politics but also as an instigator of an alternative ‘Information Society’ concept that stresses social, educational and cultural dimensions.


Dissertation title Information for all? The emergence of UNESCO's policy discourse on the Information Society (1990-2003)
Year of defence 2016

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