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Titel: Mobilfunkkonflikte aus der Vergangenheit als Lehrbeispiel für die Kommunikation über 5G - Vorhaben 3620S82476
Autor(en): Kühne, OlafWeber, FlorianBerr, KarstenDittel, JuliaEndreß, SvenHolderbaum, MarenJenal, CorinnaJutz, PhilippSchafroth, MaximilianZimmer, Marie-Luise
Herausgeber: Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz (BfS)
Sonstige Körperschaft(en): Eberhard Karls Universität TübingenUniversität des Saarlandes
Erscheinungsdatum: 6-Sep-2022
Reihe(n): Ressortforschungsberichte zum Strahlenschutz ; 200/22
Reportnummer(n): BfS-RESFOR-200/22
URN(s): urn:nbn:de:0221-2022090534028
Schlagwört(er): MobilfunkMobilfunknetzAusbauKonflikteKommunikation
Zusammenfassung: This paper addresses the question to which extent current conflicts surrounding the introduction of 5G networks can be understood as a continuation or advancement of past conflicts, or whether new actors, lines of argumentation, new insights or cultures of discussion can be identified. Based on a comparison of past and present lines of conflict, we formulate recommendations for future conflict management and regulation concerning cellular network conflicts. The theoretical framework is provided by a poststructuralist discourse-theoretical perspective based on Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau, supplemented by Ralf Dahrendorf's conflict theory. The empirical basis is formed by a triangulation of (1) a review of scientific and technological research and research trends regarding cellular networks, mobile communication and 5G, (2) a media discourse analysis which allows for a comparison between public discourses during the introduction phase of the 3G networks around the turn of the millennium, and during the roll-out of the 5G network in Germany beginning in 2018, and (3) qualitative interviews with relevant stakeholders. The media discourse analysis shows a continuation of certain lines of conflict and argumentative patterns, e.g. regarding possible health effects caused by electromagnetic fields, a debate spurred by contradictory scientific evaluations and the impossibility of ruling out health risks. The notion of 'possible' – i.e. not excludable – risks was and is frequently evoked and (re)produced, at times resulting in an erroneous synonymous use of the words 'possible' and 'likely'. At the same time, discursive shifts can be observed: In the early phase of the study – from 1998 to 2002 – positions in favour of and against the new networks stood antagonistically opposed. In comparison, the recent research period from 2018 until 2020 is characterised by a widespread use of mobile phones, and therefore less resistance to covering previously dead zones. Nonetheless, a new controversy arose, focussing on questions whether and for whom new 5G standard are necessary. Overall, recent risk assessment tends to be less negative than past evaluations, at the same time however, a hardening of opposing positions and the emergence of conspiracy theories become apparent. This assessment is further supported by insights from the qualitative interviews, which reveal strongly diverging opinions on possible health risks, in particular those of mobile phone companies and of local citizens' initiatives, whereas other stakeholders maintain less pronounced positions. On the side of ‘critics’, concerns and fears are predominant, whereas proponents of mobile networks do not perceive any health effects, emphasizing instead advantages of the technology. These diverging positions are negotiated and struggle for hegemony. Nonetheless, despite critical perspective, there is a notable focus of discourse on potentials and opportunities of the new technology. Overall, the necessity of fast and extensive mobile networks is widely accepted – there is disagreement however regarding the question of whether expansion of 5G in particular was necessary for private users. When specific conflicts erupt and are continuously repeated, opposite positions tend to harden and a further dichotomisation may take place. Conflict intensity thus increases, which in turn makes conflict settlement more difficult. Following Dahrendorf’s conceptualisations of conflict development, recognition of the diverging positions as legitimate and case-specific rather than fundamental debates facilitate conflict regulation. Fundamentally, scientific and risk communication are decisive with regard to their potential of addressing triggers of conflict as well as dealing with risks and uncertainty. Furthermore, options for promoting forms of information transfer which may be conducive to regulation of conflicts surrounding 5G networks are discussed.
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