Targeting from a Distance: Formatting Social Relations in Data-Driven Warfare

Katja Mayer, Jutta Weber

In this paper we analyze enactments of a social scientific methodology, namely social network analysis (SNA) as described and depicted in contemporary US military discourses. We follow the progressive digital grounding of military organization and knowledge through the lens of SNA. Framing SNA in this context, as a social technology that is co-constituting the worlds it studies, we see that it is embedded deeply in the logics of data-driven warfare, as well as the massive industrial and governmental efforts to map the social graph. By navigating through military applications and realizations of the network metaphor, we find SNA at the core of a rhetoric of precision that underlines the potential to deliver “high value” targets, and is outlined as computational counterterrorism and counterinsurgency from a distance.

Department of Science and Technology Studies, Research Platform Governance of digital practices
External organisation(s)
Universität Paderborn
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
509025 Technology studies, 509017 Social studies of science, 509021 Military science, 509024 Security research
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