Suchtechnologie an der Schnittstelle von globalem Kapitalismus und lokalen sozio-politischen Kulturen

Search engines like Google or Bing are developed in the US-American context, but are used around the globe. Their business models are based on user-targeted advertising. They collect user data and turn it into user profiles, which are then being sold to advertising clients.


Since the NSA affair practices of user profiling are under close scrutiny, especially in Europe with its diverse data protection laws, historically shaped notions of privacy, and very different tax systems. The reform of the EU data protection law shows very clearly the underlying tensions between global search engines and European policy and value-systems. It offers us an opportunity to observe and analyze the challenging task of translating culturally framed notions like privacy, but also ideas of economic growth and future society into EU legislation.

Aims and Objectives

Accordingly, the project Glocal Search examines the following research questions: What visions and values guide ongoing processes of search engine governance on the European level? And how do European visions relate to national identities, discourses, and value-systems? The study will answer these questions by conducting a discourse analysis of European policy documents, Austrian media, and qualitative interviews with European and national stakeholders involved in the governance of search engines. A particular focus lies on the ongoing EU data protection reform. The analysis will identify “sociotechnical imaginaries” (Jasanoff and Kim 2009) guiding search engine governance on a European and national level, trace the absence and presence of “the state” in these narratives, and analyze how Austrian imaginaries and European visions challenge, contradict, and reinforce each other.

Austria is an interesting case study since it is one of the countries that aim to hold on to their strict data protection legislations; compared to more liberal countries like Great Britain fearing that a strict European data protection legislation would weaken their economic power.


Empirically, this study will offer insights in complex relations between globally operating search engines like Google and European value-systems, but also European disparities and the role nation states (can) play in European net politics. Theoretically, the project combines concepts from Science and Technology Studies, Critical Theory, and Technology Assessment. The project results will be presented to the international academic community in the form of talks and publications, and will also serve as a basis for recommendations directed at various stakeholders.

Project results (websites of The Oesterreichische Nationalbank)

The project is supported by the Jubilee Fund of the Austrian National Bank (OeNB), project number 14702.



  • Riedlinger, D. (2022). Hey Google! Die beinahe grenzenlose Macht einer Suchmaschine. Ita-Newsfeed. Retrieved from
  • Mager, A. (2015). Glocal Search – Search technology at the intersection of global capitalism and local socio-political cultures: Final Report (p. 12). Wien. doi:/10.1553/ita-pb-a64
  • ITA [Hrsg.],. (2015). Europe against Google & Co.? ITA-Dossier no. 15en (April 2015; Author: Astrid Mager). Wien. doi:10.1553/ita-doss-015en
  • ITA [Hrsg.],. (2015). Europa gegen Google & Co? ITA-Dossier Nr. 15 (April 2015; Autorin: Astrid Mager). Wien. doi:10.1553/ita-doss-015
  • Riedlinger, D. (2015). Einladung zur Experten-Diskussion (Suchmaschinenpolitik – Europa gegen Google & Co.?). Ita-Newsfeed. Retrieved from
  • Mager, A. (2014). Is small really beautiful? Big search and its alternatives. In R. König & Rasch, M. (Eds.), Society of the Query Reader. Reflections on Web Search (pp. 59-72). Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures.
  • Mager, A. (2014). Defining Algorithmic Ideology: Using Ideology Critique to Scrutinize Corporate Search Engines. Triplec: Communication, Capitalism & Critique, 12. Jg. – 2014, 28-39. Retrieved from
  • Riedlinger, D. (2013). Google und Co. Ita-Newsfeed. Retrieved from
  • Mager, A. (2013). In search of ideology. Socio-cultural dimensions of Google and alternative search engines (ITA-manu:script 13-02). doi:10.1553/ITA-ms-13-02
  • Eklöf, J., & Mager, A. (2013). Technoscientific Promotion and Biofuel Policy: How the press and search engines stage the biofuel controversy. Media, Culture & Society, 35, 454-471. doi:10.1177/0163443713483794
  • Mager, A. (2012). Health information politics: Reconsidering the democratic ideal of the Web as a source of medical knowledge. First Monday, 17. doi:10.5210/fm.v17i10.3895
  • Mager, A. (2012). Book review: Erkki Huhtamo and Jussi Parikka (eds.) Media Archaeology. Approaches, Applications, and Implications. Information, Communication & Societyinformation, Communication & Society, 16, 1009-1012. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2012.722224
  • Mager, A. (2012). "Glokale" Perspektive auf Google & Co. Ita-Newsletter, 3 f.Retrieved from
  • 1

Conference Papers/Speeches

Conference Papers/Speeches

  • 02/03/2017 , Wien
    Astrid Mager: 
    Suchmaschinen in Europa. Europäische Suchmaschinen?
    Netzpolitischer Abend
  • 15/11/2016 , Wien
    Astrid Mager: 
    Statement am Podium
    Round Table-Diskussion 'Search for... Serendipity'
  • 05/10/2016 , Berlin
    Astrid Mager: 
    Search engine imaginary. Visions and values in the co-production of search technology and Europe
    Association of Internet Research Conference: 'Internet Rules!'
  • 05/06/2015 , Wien
    Astrid Mager: 
    Algorithmic Imaginaries. Visions and values in the co-production of search engine politics and Europe
    IS4IS Summit Vienna 2015 — The Information Society at the Crossroads
  • 23/04/2015 , Wien
    Astrid Mager: 
    Europa gegen Google & Co?
    Präsentation der Projektergebnisse 'Glocal Search' (OeNB),
  • 25/03/2015 , Wien
    Astrid Mager: 
    Alternative Suchmaschinen und deren Ideologien
    Buchpräsentation: Anton Tantner: Die ersten Suchmaschinen. Adressbüros, Fragämter, Intelligenz-Comptoirs
  • 29/11/2014 , Wien
    Astrid Mager: 
    Search engine governance at the intersection of global, European, and local contexts
    Tag der Politikwissenschaft 2014
  • 14/11/2014 , New York
    Astrid Mager: 
    Digital labor, capitalist ideology, and alternative future
    DL14 – Digital Labor Conference
  • 17/09/2014 , Torun
    Astrid Mager: 
    The absence and presence of 'the state' in sociotechnical imaginaries of search engines
    EASST conference 2014
  • 05/05/2014 , Graz
    Astrid Mager: 
    Google media coverage in the context of EU data protection reform
    STS Conference 2014 'Critical Issues in Science and Technology Studies', Panel 'The Politics of ICTs'
  • 07/11/2013 , Amsterdam
    Astrid Mager: 
    Is small really beautiful? Big search and its alternatives
    Society of the Query #2 (invited keynote)
  • 26/09/2013 , Wien
    Astrid Mager: 
    Statement am Podium. Panel: Social Media in der Politarena – Zwischen Mobilisierung und Shitstorm-Gefahr
    Österreichische Medientage #20
  • 15/09/2013 , Wien
    Astrid Mager: 
    Mächtige Netze – Vernetzte Macht
    Symposium OPEN CULTURE im Rahmen von 'paraflows .8 – Festival für Digitale Kunst und Kulturen'
  • 14/09/2013 , Wien
    Astrid Mager: 
    Österreichischer Netzkonvent – Forderungen und Ergebnisse
    Daten. Netz. Politik 13
  • 11/09/2013 , Wien
    Astrid Mager: 
    Statement am Podium
    Wir: Der Souverän
  • 26/07/2012 , Wien
    Astrid Mager: 
    User Profiling. Wie globale Unternehmen aus lokalen Daten Profit schlagen
    E-Business Community/APA
  • 03/05/2012 , Uppsala
    Astrid Mager: 
    Defining Algorithmic Ideology: Using ideology theories to understand and critique corporate search engines
    4th ICTs and Society Conference
  • 25/04/2012 , Wien
    Astrid Mager: 
    Suchmaschinen im Spannungsfeld von globaler Informationsökonomie und lokaler Gesellschaftspolitik
    Themanabend Black Box Suchmaschine
  • 12/03/2012 , Oxford
    Astrid Mager: 
    The performative character of digital methods
    OII Conference: Interdisciplinary Insights on the Social Science of Digital Research
  • 1


03/2012 - 09/2015

Project team