Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - General Sociology

Dr. Vincent August

Research fellow | né Vincent Rzepka



vincent august   kürzer
Photo: Esra Eres


vincent.august (at)


Charlottenstraße 81, room 4.3.13

Mail address

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Department of Social Sciences
Unter den Lin­den 6
10099 Berlin

Office hours

Please contact me via email.



Personal Statement

Vincent August (né Rzepka) is postdoctoral researcher and lecturer in political and social theory at the Department of Social Sciences. Studying political science, sociology, and literature, he earned his BA and MA degree from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. He has been a visiting researcher at UC Berkeley, the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB), and the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society. He is co-publisher and editor with the Theorieblog.

In a forthcoming book, Vincent examines the rise of network ideas. He reveals how intellectuals, such as Foucault, Crozier, or Luhmann, enforced cybernetic network ideas to re-shape the way we think about society and politics. As he traces concepts of complexity, self-regulation, and network governance from their origins in cybernetics via the “silent revolution” of the 1970s to the present, Vincent's work dissects the massive shift in our understanding of subjectivity and power that resulted from the rise of network ideas.

In his last monograph, Vincent challenged the political buzz word 'transparency' by offering a genealogy of this democratic norm. Recently, he has worked on a general theory of transparency, unraveling the history, mechanism, and unintended consequences of transparency.


New article in the European Journal of Social Theory
Network concepts in social theory: Foucault and cybernetics (open access)

Network concepts are omnipresent in contemporary diagnoses (network society), management practices (network governance), social science methods (network analysis) and theories (network theory). Instigating a critical analysis of network concepts, this article explores the sources and relevance of networks in Foucault’s social theory. I argue that via Foucault we can trace network concepts back to cybernetics, a research programme that initiated a shift from ‘being’ to ‘doing’ and developed a new theory of regulation based on connectivity and codes, communication and circulation. This insight contributes to two debates: Firstly, it highlights a neglected influence on Foucault’s theory that travelled from cybernetics via structuralism and Canguilhem into his concept of power. Secondly, it suggests that network society and governance are neither a product of neoliberalism nor of technological artefacts, such as the Internet. They rather resulted from a distinct tradition of cybernetically inspired theories and practices. (Abb.: © SAGE)

International Volume on Transparency
Transparency Imperatives: Results and Frontiers of Social Science Research

The new multi-language volume edited by Vincent and his colleague compiles the social science research on transparency. For an overview, read the English introduction by Vincent and Fran Osrecki that sets out to integrate the research results and sketch new frontiers of social science research.

The volume shows that transparency is a modernist concept of governance that translates distrust into practices of inspection. As they standardize and formalize processes, those processes become intelligible for lay persons external to the inner workings of a system. However, transpanrency often fails to achieve the self-proclaimed goals: transparency produces intransparency.

At many research institutes and universities, the volume is accessible for free via SpringerLink(Abb.: © Springer VS)




Research interests


Vincent’s research areas are:

social and political theory

history of thought and sociology of knowledge

political sociology


His main research topics are:

Norms, practices, and critique of governance:
networks, (neo)liberalism, republicanism 

Society, technology, and ecology:
history, epistemology, and power of technological ideas, esp. cybernetics, systems approaches and network theory

Social cohesion and conflict:
concepts of social control, conflict theories, political integration and social cohesion in late modern societies

Transparency and the public sphere:
norms, practices, consequences of transparency, concepts of publicity, rhetoric



The Network Society: An Epistemic Order and its History of Thought

Ecological Theory: Analytical and Normative Approaches

Hannah Arendt's Political Thought

The Public Sphere: Theory, History, Challenges

Politics and Postmodernity: 'Governance' as a Political Theory

Michel Foucault’s History of Governmentality

Political Rhetoric: Analysis and Technique of Power

Liberalism – History and Topicality

Introduction to Political Theory and the History of Political Thought

Introduction to Academic Research

Performativity and Politics (team-taught with Grit Straßenberger)


Curriculum vitae