Title page for ETD etd-06122010-214833

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Postma, D J v R
URN etd-06122010-214833
Document Title Deepening and broadening the critique of technology : an analysis of an ANT approach
Degree PhD
Department Informatics
Advisor Name Title
Prof C de Villiers Co-Supervisor
Prof J D Roode Supervisor
  • technology
  • CRIS
  • information systems
  • ANT approach
Date 2010-04-12
Availability unrestricted
This study contributes to critical studies of information systems (CRIS) by addressing two limitations: the generally weak theorisation of technology and the limited focus of critique. Technology is weakly theorised because it is mainly seen in instrumentalist and constructivist ways. It is argued that these understandings of the technological limit the focus of critique to human plans, intentions and relations. The study joins the quest for specificity about technology and while it does not only focus on what is inscribed into it, the study also looks at the effects of the technological actant. The ANT conception of technology as an actant in heterogeneous networks opens various new avenues for critique. It is argued that the processes of technologising play a central role in socio-technical networks and that they have certain effects which contribute to both change and stability. The technological could not be limited to the “purely” technical, but has effects on the typical human functions such as communication, cognition, morality and ends. Although it is acknowledged that the social and the technical are closely intertwined, critique could still focus on the role of the technical. The particular effects of technology in the heterogeneous networks are of central concern to the critical researcher who wants to contribute towards the morality of the processes through which heterogeneous networks are built. The study investigates in some depth the conceptions of technology and of critique in information studies. This is contrasted with similar investigations from an ANT perspective. Case studies were used and reinterpreted to show how such a critique of the socio-technical networks might be done. Conclusions are drawn about the nature and functioning of technology and of critique; of the role of actants in networks and of the role of the critical researcher and of critical theories. The study contributes towards a deepening and broadening of critique. The deepening of critique refers to the need for a critical function within the very processes of assembling and not as something that could only happen afterwards. The broadening of critique refers to the participation of all entities (human and nonhuman) in the processes of critique.

© 2010, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Postma, DJvR 2010, Deepening and broadening the critique of technology : an analysis of an ANT approach, PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-06122010-214833/ >


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