PhD Thesis (english)

Imag(in)ing Networks
An inquiry on visual knowledge and scientific certainty in the production of network visualisations.

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In line with the concept of performativity, the underlying hypothesis of my project is that producing and representing knowledge are inseparable and that a focus onto the production and use of scientific images exposes dimensions of scientific practise that are located in a social but also aesthetic context. Images are prolific in the sciences but traditionally are denied of their objective certainty.

The central question is: How can scientific results remain authentic, certain, judicious and convincing if they are produced and validated with images that are conventionally not accounted as strict formal methods?

Images and in particular representations in science have been studied for decades, but the practise of image production and use of new imaging technologies in the social sciences are rarely objects of research projects. With Social Network Analysis I chose an interdisciplinary academic field where images play an important role in argumentation, knowledge production and diffusion, and where aesthetic criteria and visual traditions play an active part in imaging processes.

I will realize my research scheme with a combination of methods. Participatory observation, expert interviews and feedback discussions should generate an insight into the image production procedure as well as provide the personal positions and the collective attributions of the researchers in this field.