Traversing the Edge: Using Discourse Analysis to Understand IS Power Relations

Academic Publishing Ltd.
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of the 9th European Conference on Research Methodology for Business and Management Studies, 2010, pp. 175 - 182
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Our project attempts to understand the operation of power in the development of computer-based information systems using Foucault's conception of discourse. Foucault's "genealogy" sees power not in the characteristics or resources of particular actors, but as a continuing chain of power/knowledge encounters. The "knowledge" aspect of these encounters is partly understood through Foucault's "archaeology". Thus long-term power/knowledge chains characterise systems of formation that pervade discourse, and influence immediate power/knowledge encounters. In particular we look at systems of formation that could be labeled "management" and "information technology" and their entanglement in the "process" of information systems development. This distinct understanding of "discourse analysis" influences our approach to our interpretive research methodology. In this paper we will demonstrate how our approach to interpretive analysis works for a pilot interview, positing several tests from the pilot interview for further investigation. This rarely seen approach to IS research presents a benefit when studying the topic of power, because we may be able to grasp through exteriority the deep structures that influence the narrative of an individual. This may represent a gain in the provability of the interpretative IS research choice.
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