Thursday, 29 October 2009

Constructivism in information systems

Mingers writes and edits on social theory and philosophy in information systems. For example, on shaping of technology (SST) and the social construction of technology (SCOT) (sounds like a take-off of Berger & Luckmans 'Social construction of reality'). They criticise "the predominance of technological determinism" (page 332).

In Minger's book, Probert reviews Theodor Adono's work because it "assists the critical researcher in devising apposite research strategies". Probert comments:
"in Adono's view the subject does not make the world up (this is often termed 'constructivism')"
Constructivism is how a person understands the world, has made it up, has constructed it. It's a metaphor of building. These parts fit together, something cements them so that together they build something. Again in Mingers, Howcroft et al consider terminology indicating that constructivism includes strands:
  • actor-network approach
  • social constructivist approach
  • social shaping approach
  • systems approach.
But each strand causes debates. For example, they mention weak versus strong constructivism. I'd not read of the contrast before - so there's more for me to read up.

Mingers work is fascinating, enjoyable and relevant to IS in general. However, the research I'm doing is more about people, management and business than technology - it' s just that people and management are situated in a technology context - I'm not sure that technology influences the client-consultant relationship and therefore the literature on social theory and philosophy technology is not sufficiently relevant to my research.

Berger, P. L. and T. Luckmann (1971). The social construction of reality : a treatise in the sociology of knowledge. Harmondsworth, Penguin.
Mingers, J. and L. P. Willcocks, Eds. (2004). Social Theory and Philosophy for Information Systems. John Wiley Series in Information Systems, John Wiley.
"The phrase 'social theory and philosophy for information systems' invites an examination of following terms: social, theory, philosophy, information, systems, information systems, philosophy for information..." (more)

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