UTI Research Group


Thomas Allmer

Thomas Allmer

Thomas Allmer is a co-director of the GSIS Institute.

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Sebastian Sevignani

Sebastian Sevignani is Assistant Professor in General and Theoretical Sociology at the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany.

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The Unified Theory of Information (UTI) Research Group generally devotes its work to the elaboration of a critical media and communication theory that contributes to a better understanding of media's and communication's role in contemporary capitalism. It aims at an integrative critical media and communication theory based among others on unorthodox Marxist and political economy approaches.

The UTI Research Group’s particular theoretical and empirical research centres on a better and integrative understanding of digital capitalism and provides answers to questions, such as: What are the qualities of digital capitalism as a new form of social formation? What is its economic structure? How is it regulated politically? Which ideologies, cultural values and representations are specific to its social formation?

Originally, the UTI Research Group was founded in 2003 as an independent research institution. In legal respects, it assumed the form of a non-profit association according to Austrian law.

The overall aim had been to construct a common information concept on the basis of self-organisation theories and to apply it to research in information society, including information technology.

The first project the UTI Research Group was involved in was "Human Strategies in Complexity: Philosophical Foundations for a Theory of Evolutionary Systems". It was carried out from 2001 to 2004 at the Vienna University of Technology. Funds came from INTAS from the EU and the Austrian Ministry for Education, Science, and Culture.

From 2010 to 2014, the UTI Research Group executed "Social networking sites in the surveillance society", a research project funded by the Austrian Science Funds FWF. The overall aim was to study electronic surveillance on social networking sites that are used by Austrian students. Policy conclusions and recommendations were that educational efforts should be made to advance users’ knowledge about online surveillance, privacy and online advertising, that alternative, non-commercial social networking sites should be more supported institutionally and financially and that legal and policy reforms are needed that limit the invasiveness of targeted online advertising by make such advertising opt-in and based on true informed consent. Project leader was Christian Fuchs. Research reports were delivered by Thomas Allmer, Sebastian Sevignani, and Verena Kreilinger. The research project was linked to the EU COST Action IS0807 "Living in Surveillance Societies", which enabled the involved scholars to present research results at an international level and to network the project at the European level, which enabled international knowledge exchange and collaboration.

The core activity of the UTI Research Group had for long been the publishing of tripleC: Cognition – Communication – Co-operation, an open access journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society. This journal was founded to enable quick publication of papers of young researchers having valuable ideas that should not become victim of tunnel visions of traditional reviewers. The story turned out a success story. When funds of the Westminster University were found to finance the open access journal, the responsibility of its publishing was taken away from the UTI Research Group as such and handed over to the members Christian Fuchs and Marisol Sandoval as editors. The journal was renamed tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique. Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society.

The UTI Research Group has been supporting the ICTs and Society Network conferences.

The first members of the UTI Group have been researchers coming from the Sociocybernetics Group of the Institute for Design and Technology Assessment of the Vienna University of Technology around Peter Fleissner. After Wolfgang Hofkirchner had been appointed Professor (Univ.Prof.) of Internet and Society at the Paris Lodron University Salzburg in 2004, members of his staff joined the UTI Research Group and international academics requested membership. Later on, PhD students enriched the group and have now, as postdocs, been populating the board.

In 2019, the UTI Research Group became an autonomous Unit of the present Institute for a Global Sustainable Information Society, after the independent Emergent Systems, Information and Society Group had been incorporated.



The Group is open to collaboration. Group Members need not be Institute Members.

If you want to join, please, contact one of the Heads.



UTI Research Group

Updated on 2023-04-05T11:06:14+02:00, by Wolfgang Hofkirchner.