Civilizing Drones: Military Discourses Going Civil?

S. Braun, M. Friedewald, G. Valkenburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article presents an account of how a technology being transferred from one area of deployment to another entails that specific discourses travel along. In particular, we show that the development of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS, often referred to as drones) is importantly determined by its military progeny, as the civilian context inherits specific discourses from the military context. Contemporary ideas of privacy and security in drone use can be largely traced back to this original context. We show that concepts and their relative importance primarily depend on the discourses that travel together with the technologies on which the concepts aim to act. There is no technological reason for privacy and security to be implemented the way they are, nor can their implementation be explained merely from socio-political or moral discourses. Instead, material and discursive mechanisms successfully enact and reproduce the dominant military viewpoint.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-87
JournalScience and Technology Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

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