SFB 1369 Cultures of vigilance

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Evaluation Ambivalence within Whistleblowing Discourse

teilbereich_198x149px_a05Project A06

Principal Investigator

Prof. Dr. Ralf Kölbel


Dr. Elke Wienhausen-Knezevic

Project Description

The project aims to examine evaluation ambivalence with regard to whistleblowing (external) in discourse relating to legal policy in Germany.

For this purpose a discourse analytical perspective is applied within the scope of a multi-level approach.

In this context, the term external whistleblowing refers to a modern variety of vigilance, one that entails internal information being disclosed by inside sources within an organization (government owned/privately owned) to departments and authorities (ombudsmen, lawyers, compliance managers) for whom the given information was never originally intended; a passing on of information to the “outside”.

The revelatory behavior of whistleblowers occupies a space in which it is ambivalently evaluated by processes of interpretation within societies.

How, and to what extent, potential informants are confronted with opposing/contradictory expectations with regards to both the loyalty expected of them from the organisations employing them, as well as an individual’s responsibility to (“outside”) society, has not yet been studied in any great detail.

The project therefore aims to investigate this conflict, turning, at the level of its cultural framing, this specific type of vigilance technique created by external whistleblowing into the object of this study. With the help of discourse analysis methods, questions pertaining to the following will hopefully be answered; whether the (often presumed) dismissal/repudiation of whistleblowing is predominant in German debates about legal policy, and, if so, which ideas of reality this is dependent upon, as well as in what fashion this finds expression in respective proposed judicial political frameworks. As a whole, the project aims (based on a typical modern vigilance phenomenon) to scrutinise the characteristic indecisiveness and controversy involved in the evaluation of individual vigilance, using German legislative policy as a main investigative field.