A number of spectacular cases have recently spurred research and public debate on whistleblowing. Portrayals of whistleblowers oscillate between the heroic and courageous ‘truth-teller’ and the morally dubious and dangerous ‘trouble-maker’. Whilst acknowledging the deep ambivalence of whistleblowing, this special issue moves beyond individualising accounts. It situates the experience of whistleblowing in the context of the wider political economy, and considers it to be shaped by variegated socio-economic and political discourses, legal frameworks, institutional and organisational norms, as well as digital technologies.
As such, this issue of ephemera seeks to open a space for discussing the specific ‘conditions of possibility’ of truth-telling and the multiple technologies, which mediate it in contemporary digital cultures. The notion of the ethico-politics of whistleblowing is introduced to address the irreducible entanglement of questions of ethics, politics and truth in the practice of ‘speaking out’. It suggests to explore the possibilities and limitations of questioning and re-negotiating established institutional practices and organisational norms.
The special issue brings together a set of papers, acknowledging that forms and mediations of truth-telling are complex and contested. The contributions discuss questions such as: Who is, in digital cultures, considered to be qualified to speak out, and about what? Under which conditions, and with what consequences can ‘the truth’ be told? How do digital infrastructures regulate the truth, and the process of making it heard? How is the figure of the whistleblower constructed, and how do whistleblowers constitute themselves as political and ethical subjects, willing to take risks and pose a challenge, to others and themselves?