How the governance of and through digital contact tracing technologies shapes geographies of power

Ingrid Metzler, Heidrun Åm

Publications: Contribution to journalArticlePeer Reviewed


In this article, we use the COVID-19 pandemic to study governance through digital technologies. We investigate ‘digital contact tracing’ (DCT) apps developed in Austria and Norway and find their emergence, contestation and stabilisation as moments in which norms and values are puzzled through, and distributions of power change. We show that debates on DCT apps involved disputes on ‘digital citizenship’, that is, on the scope and nature of data that authorities are allowed to collect from citizens. Remarkably, these disputes were settled through the enrolment of a framework developed jointly by Apple and Google. Software became akin to a constitution that enshrined understandings of good citizenship into technological design, while also being a means through which geographies of power materialised. This article contributes to literature on technological governance by showing how the rising salience of technologies in governance transform political geographies and, as a consequence, democratic lives

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-198
Number of pages18
JournalPolicy & Politics
Issue number2
Early online date15 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 509017 Social studies of science
  • 506010 Policy analysis


  • Citizenship
  • Co-production
  • Constitutional moments
  • Covid-19 pandemic
  • Digital contact tracing (dct)
  • Digital technologies
  • Technological governance
  • Technology policy
  • citizenship
  • technology policy
  • technological governance
  • digital technologies
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • co-production
  • constitutional moments
  • digital contact tracing (DCT)

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