Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Outrage without Consequences? Post-Snowden Discourses and Governmental Practice in Germany

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Abstract:  In 2013 Edward Snowden’s disclosures of mass surveillance performed by US intelligence agencies seriously irritated politicians and citizens around the globe. This holds particularly true for privacy-sensitive communities in Germany. However, while the public was outraged, intelligence and security cooperation between the United States and Germany has been marked by continuity instead of disruption. The rather insubstantial debate over a so-called “No-Spy-Agreement” between the United States and Germany is just one telling example of the disconnect between public discourse and governmental action, as is the recent intelligence service regulation. This article considers why and where the “Snowden effect” has been lost on different discursive levels. We analyze and compare parliamentary and governmental discourses in the two years after the Snowden revelations by using the Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse (SKAD) to dissect the group-specific statements and interpretive schemes in 287 official documents by the German Bundestag, selected ministries and agencies within the policy subsystem. These will be analyzed in reference to actual governmental practice.

Keywords:  cyber security; discourse analysis; dispositive analysis; German–US intelligence cooperation; surveillance



© Stefan Steiger, Wolf J. Schünemann, Katharina Dimmroth. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.