My research is concerned with search engine politics, datafication of public sectors, algorithmic systems & bias, the global information economy and local socio-political cultures, critical theory, internet governance in Europe, alternative tech and open source communities, as well as science & technology studies (STS) more generally.

Currently, I’m working as a Senior Academy Scientist at the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) in Vienna/ Austrian Academy of Sciences and as a lecturer at the Department of Science and Technology Studies, University of Vienna. I recently finished the project “Algorithmic Imaginaries. Visions & values in the shaping of search engines” (funded by the FWF; Elise Richter Program; project number: V511-G29). A short summary can be found on the ITA website. The project resulted in a cumulative “habilitation” and a range of peer-reviewed journal articles.The habilitation is submitted and the process is ongoing at the Department of Science and Technology Studies, University of Vienna.

I also finished a project on the so-called AMS Algorithm with the title: “Socio-technical analysis of the so called “AMS-algorithm” of the Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS)” (together with Doris Allhutter and colleagues from the Technical University of Vienna); more infos can be found at the ITA website. This project triggered a lot of attention in the Austrian media and policy circles, as well as in academia. This is why a larger follow-up project started last year as part of the FWF funding scheme CHANSE (project number: FWF I 6075). The project “Automating Welfare” is coordinated by Anne Kaun (Sweden) and aims at a comparison of datafication and automation attempts in public sectors across Europe, as well as communical projects on a city level, for example. The Austrian team constist of Doris Allhutter, Rafaela Cavalcanti de Alcântara, and me; more infos here. Moreover, I’m involved in a couple of activities as part of the Young Academy of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, such as the AGIDE project (Academies for Global Innovation and Digital Ethics, headed by ÖAW division president Christiane Wendehorst) that is going to end in spring 2024 with a public event (more infos will follow).

Previously, I was leading the project “GLOCAL SEARCH. Search technology at the intersection of global capitalism and local socio-political cultures” (funded by the Jubiläumsfonds of the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB), project number 14702) at ITA. Check out the abstract on the ITA website. These articles have been published as part of the project so far: Defining Algorithmic Ideology, TripleC (2014), Is small really beautiful?, in: Society of the Query Reader (2014); Ideologie des Algorithmus, in: Die Googleisierung der Informationssuche (2014), Search engine imaginary: Visions & values in the co-production on search technology and Europe, Social Studies of Science (2016); see publications. Here’s a short video showing my work on Algorithmic Ideology (recorded at the Digital Labor Conference, NYC, November 2014):

Astrid Mager at #DL14 from The Politics of Digital Culture on Vimeo.

Before that, I was working as a postdoc fellow at HUMlab/ Umeå University in the far north of Sweden. I analyzed how search engines are socially shaped in capitalist society and what implications their “algorithmic ideology” triggers in search results. Two peer-reviewed articles have been published: Algorithmic Ideology, Information, Communication & Society (2012) & Technoscientific Promotion and Biofuel Policy, Media, Culture & Society (together with Jenny Eklöf, 2013); see publications.

In my PhD (download), written at the Department of Science and Technology Studies, University of Vienna (where I also worked for several years), I investigated how medical knowledge is communicated between website providers and users concluding that search engines, Google in particular, play a central role in these sociotechnical practices. Drawing on the Actor-Network Theory (Latour) I conceptualized Google as an obligatory passage point (Callon) that translates between, but also crucially shapes website providers’ and users’ practices triggering new epistemic practices and demanding for new skills. All health-related publications stem from my PhD work; see publications too.

I’m also interested in the politics of methods and the performative character of digital methods more specifically. I occasionally attend conferences and workshops on this matter, as those organized by the Digital Methods Initiative, Amsterdam (Richard Rogers and colleagues).

Additionally, I teach at the Department of Science and Technology Studies and co-edit the journal Momentum-Quarterly – Zeitschrift für Sozialen Fortschritt. [Momentum Quarterly – Journal for Societal Progress]. A bilingual and peer-reviewed Open Access Journal:  ISSN: 2226-5538 (together with Leonhard Dobusch, Lukas Lehner & Stefanie Wöhl)

Finally, I’m reviewing for New Media & Society, Information, Communication &  Society, First Monday, Policy & Internet, Social Studies of Science, Science, Technology & Human Values, Convergence, Big Data & Society

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