Department of Sociology



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Norma Möllers

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Sociology
Associated Faculty, Surveillance Studies Centre
Ph.D. (Sociology, Universität Potsdam) | CV

Phone: (613) 533-4449
Ext.: 74449
Office: Mackintosh-Corry Hall, Room D531

Research Areas

My work explores processes at the intersections of science, technology, and politics. Drawing on science & technology studies and political sociology, my research ethnographically investigates how scientists and engineers are mobilized for political purposes, the social and cultural assumptions which inform their activities, and how the products of science and engineering stabilize social order. I analyze these processes in the areas of security and surveillance technology development; specifically, video surveillance technology and cybersecurity infrastructure. My work seeks to understand the roles of science and technology in state-making and maintaining and vice versa in contemporary societies.

Currently, I’m working on my first book manuscript. Based on an ethnography of the development of a ‘smart’ video surveillance system, it deals with the ways in which science and technology are mobilized for national strategies concerning security, and how this connects to broader shifts in technoscientific knowledge production. The larger question I aim to raise with this book is what kind of science and technology we are bargaining for under the conditions of contemporary science organization. I also just got started working on my second project which addresses the question how governments deal with problems of national territory in cyberspace.


I have joined Queen’s Sociology department in Fall 2015. I've been fortunate to work with some amazing people throughout the past years. Since coming here, I have been a Visiting Fellow at the Weizenbaum-Institute for the Networked Society in Berlin, and I have joined the Surveillance Studies Centre as Associated Faculty. Prior to coming to Queen’s, I have worked as a researcher at Humboldt-University’s science studies department in Berlin, have been a visiting researcher at UC Irvine, and have worked as a researcher at Potsdam University, Germany, which is also where I obtained my PhD. I have studied at Passau University, Germany, and at Sapienza University, Rome.

Research Projects

Cybersecurity and the making of 'digital territory'
(SSHRC Insight Development Grant, 2017-2019)

This project brings together empirical studies on how cybersecurity shapes 'digital citizenship' with recent theorizing of the mundaneness and materiality of state governance. Drawing attention to the materiality of Internet governance is important: technical standards, algorithms, and the mundane work involved in embedding and maintaining them are often overlooked, yet may be highly consequential. State legislation always has material consequences for the shape of infrastructure, as well as for who has what access to what kinds of data. For example, governments may pressure Internet service providers to build ‘back doors’ into their infrastructure so they can access data on citizen’s online behavior; similarly, legislation on cyberpolicing may result in building joint databases for police and intelligence, or in software for automatic detection of cybercrime and –terrorism. Quite contrary to the Internet’s popular image as ‘disembodied communication’ and ‘global network,’ what we may see here is a strong pull towards its ‘territorialization.’ The questions such developments raise, and which this project seeks to address, are thus how state intervention is inscribed in and materially stabilized by information infrastructure, and how this shapes who counts and may act as ‘digital citizen’ and who does not.

Teaching (2018-19)

SOCY 284: Sociology of Information & Communication Technology
SOCY 363: Science, Technology & Society
SOCY 422: Advanced Study of Information & Communication Technology
SOCY 934: Political Sociology


I supervise students broadly in the area of science & technology studies. I'm particularly interested in supervising students who want to investigate intersections of science, engineering, and the state or markets.

Current graduate students:

Karina Rider (PhD) - Digital Imaginaries: Internet Infrastructure and Political Action
Thomas MacDonald (PhD)
Jennifer Whitaker (MA) - Workplace Wellness Programs and Genetic Discrimination

Previous students:

Paige Upton (MA) - Healthcare robotics
Justin Rotman (BA) - Wearable technologies

Selected publications

You can find a full list of publications in my CV. Some copies of my papers are available on my profile.

Möllers, Norma (2017): 'The mundane politics of security research: Tailoring research problems'. Science & Technology Studies 30 (2), 14-33.

Neyland, Daniel and Norma Möllers (2017): 'Algorithmic IF ... THEN rules and the conditions and consequences of power'. Information, Communication & Society 20 (1), 45-62.

Möllers, Norma (2016): 'Shifting in and out of context: Technoscientific drama as technology of the self'. Social Studies of Science 46 (3), 351-373.

Hälterlein, Jens and Norma Möllers (2016): 'Deutungskonflikte um automatisierte Videoüberwachung. Zur sozialen Konstruktion einer Technologie als Instrument der Kriminalitätsbekämpfung'. In: Zoche, Peter, Stefan Kaufmann and Harald Arnold (eds.): Grenzenlose Sicherheit? Gesellschaftliche Dimensionen der Sicherheitsforschung. Berlin: LIT Verlag, 163-180.

Möllers, Norma, Jens Hälterlein, and Tina Spies (2014): 'Subjektivierung als Artikulation diskursiver Ordnungen.  Zur Aneignung von Subjektpositionen im Kontext der Entwicklung automatisierter Videoüberwachung'. Zeitschrift für Diskursforschung  2 (1), 55–76.

Möllers, Norma und Jens Hälterlein (2013): 'Privacy Issues in Public Discourse. The Case of "Smart" CCTV in Germany'. Innovation. The European Journal of Social Science Research 26 (1–2), 57–70.

Apelt, Maja und Norma Möllers (2011): "WieintelligenteVideoüberwachung erforschen? Ein Resümee aus 10 Jahren Forschung zu Videoüberwachung.“ Zeitschrift für Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik 4 (4), 585–593.