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D2.3: Models

The Management and the Representation of Identity in Information Systems: an Overview  D2.3 Models
 Modelling the Person in Information Systems


Categories of IMS, and their application in social systems


Types of IMS

Taking a look at the market of existing IMS (Identity Management Systems), on prototypes, concepts and IM-related tools, we determine several approaches towards IMS which differ, e.g. in 

  1. Procedure of management (by whom? which operations on data offered?) 

  2. Type of managed data (possession of the data: personal or organisational? comprehensive profiles or selection of roles or partial identities? anonymity or identifiability?) 


With respect to these properties, we observe three main types of IMS (which are explained and further investigated in Deliverable 3.1): 


Type 1: IMS for account management 

Type 1 IMS are used for implementing authentication, authorisation, and accounting:

  1. Procedure of management mainly centralised; within groups of organisations which trust each other administration can be somewhat decentralised to a group of (trusted) administrators (federated identity management systems, see D3.1) 

  2. Type of managed data mainly organisational, roles determined by the provider of the central system, data in most cases linkable to the individual person 


Type 2: IMS for profiling of user data by an organisation 

Type 2 IMS are e.g. for logging or data warehouse tools which support personal profiling e.g., personalised services, or group profiling such as the analysis of customer behaviour:

  1. Procedure of management mainly centralised 

  2. Type of managed data personal as well as organisational, mainly comprehensive profiling, linkability to an individual person is often the target of these approaches 


Type 3: IMS for user-controlled context-dependent role and pseudonym management 

  1. Procedure of management mainly decentralised 

  2. Type of managed data is mainly personal; tool-supported selection of roles and relating partial identities, privacy protection and in some cases anonymity is the target of these approaches 


Social systems


From a traditional sociological point of view, the specific identity as “person” (Luhmann 1991) is a construction through a specific situation which is mainly formed by a specific social system. Sociologists know at least three types of social systems (Luhmann 1997): 


  1. Interactional systems

  2. Organisational systems

  3. Functional systems


Functional systems are characterised by communication that is specialised in functionality. Organisations have to be connectable to all four main functional systems, but normally have a main emphasis on one of them: 


  1. Economics: payment / non-payment;

  2. Law: legal / non-legal;

  3. Politics: power / non-power;

  4. Science: true / false;


Sociologists understand social systems as pool of schemes, events and communicational components which are used by persons. In this context persons could be understood as personal inventory of social systems; the thinking of persons taking part in communication is focused by the mentioned components within the appropriate social systems. The different types of social systems operate on different addressing modes to link these communicational components. 


The social subsystems reproduce particular patterns of communication that have particular social functions (cp. e.g. the above-mentioned generic persons, which also correspond to typical roles within these systems). These functions, in turn, generate so called “pointed sense horizons” (Luhmann 1997) for organisations, which create particular sets of expectations (role conformity as “client”, “citizen”, “responsible citizen”, “human being”) for the persons acting in them.


Communication thus personally involves persons in socially typical processes, e.g. as a citizen of a certain country, as a company’s client, as a patient in hospital or as teacher in a school, but also as “my friend”, “my mother” or “my neighbour”.  


Application of IMS within social systems


Looking at the described types of IMS and the different social systems we observe specific connections between them. 


Type 1 IMS: organisational function 

Type 1 IMS are mainly established within organisational systems where we find e.g. enterprises (economic subsystem) or public bodies (political functional system) using them. The data managed are mainly centrally administrated account data for employees and customers / citizen. The type of management in most cases is strictly organised, role assignments regulated by processes which are well documented. The person behind the managed account in most cases has small influence on the roles she or he is allowed to take within this IMS; it matches usually quite well with the roles taken or assigned within the organisational system. In this case we can speak of an “assigned identity”. 


Type 2 IMS: profiling function 

Type 2 IMS, much like Type 1, are mainly used by organisational systems; we find here for example enterprises doing profiling on customer data they receive off-line (e.g. via questionnaires) or on-line (web, cash box using customer account cards etc.). Another example is the profiles generated by public bodies e.g. in the case of criminal investigations. The employees doing the review are mandated by the organisation and specially educated to do profiling. The techniques and parameters used for the profiling are in most cases (public or trade) secrets – the profiled persons get, in most cases, no feedback as to how the profiling was done and what resulted from the profiles. Looking at the results of profiling based on authentic personal information, but in central aspects not being influenced by the profiled person itself, we can speak of a “derived identity”. Profiling is done on both members and clients of the organisations (for more details please refer to deliverable 7.2). 


Type 3 IMS: individual function 

Type 3 IMS are used in both interactional as well as in organisational systems although organisational aspects are dominating. We suggest examining internet-typical communications like chat, blogging and avatars for their interactional character. In this context the new description of borderlines between interactional and organisational systems might be necessary. To use those services with interactional aspects we find requirements such as written communication, membership and the use of services of telecommunication providers which are typical for organisational systems.    
Another example of the use of type 3 IMS within organisational systems is the use of different web services with different accounts by a customer (client role outside of the organisation). In this example type 3 IMS are the decentralised, user driven view on account management systems (type 1 IMS) for public web based services.    
Due to the existence of alternate services and the user control of which one to use with which account, we can speak of “chosen identity”.



The Management and the Representation of Identity in Information Systems: an Overview  fidis-wp2-del2.3.models_04.sxw  Modelling the Person in Information Systems
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