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Agential realism – something for gender and IT research?
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Informatics.
Teknovetenskapliga studier, Blekinge Tekniska Högskola.
Teknovetenskapliga studier, Blekinge Tekniska Högskola.
2008 (English)In: The 4th European Gender & ICT Symposium, The 3rd Christina Conference on Women´s Studies, 2008Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

People´s everyday lives have changed and are continuously changing depending on thetechnologically mediated world we live in. Feminist researchers have explored the relationshipsbetween gender and information technology (IT), the gendering of IT and the co-construction ofgender and IT. This research has contributed to and created critical approaches towards pluralisticunderstandings of the relationships between gender and (information) technology. There exists abody of knowledge concerning not only gender, but also epistemological and ontological issues.However, explorations are ongoing processes in order to “encourage us to do this differently.”(Schneider 2005:21)In this exploratory paper we will use Karen Barad’s agential realism together with Haraway’sdiffraction to discuss systems development, the importance of materiality and its role in thedevelopment of IT-systems. While diffraction maps “where the effects of differences appear”(Haraway 1992:300), agential realism invites us to discuss systems development as materialdiscursivepractices. The focus is moved from interactions between humans/non-humans to intraactions(togetherness) in practices/doings/actions.We address the following questions: Does the approach of agential realism with intra-actions,apparatuses, and cuts help to find new fruitful understandings of gender and IT? Does theapproach help feminist researchers in developing future directions of gender and IT, creatingalternatives and acting accountably in the world of becoming, where agency remains at the heartof feminist practices?We are here in particular concerned with the design and construction of IT-systems and artefacts.In building these, different actors and practices can be involved, such as for example systemsdevelopers, programmers, specifications, design models, operating systems, programminglanguages, computers, protocols, managers, time, money, workplace culture, division of labour,gender and so on. In specific performances of material-discursive practices these are included orexcluded. Those included constitute the specific apparatus involved in boundary-making inmaterial-discursive practices. With a diffracted reading of various development practices we willmap the chosen apparatus and how it comes to participate in and enact a particular world ofbecoming. Due to the particular apparatus, categories and classifications, such as subjects andobjects, experts and non-experts, gender, information technology etc. are constituted.Consequently, what is included or excluded in the enactment orders the world differently sincedifferent realities (worlds) are sedimented out of particular practices/doings/actions. Beingaccountable means to ask if we need other kinds of practices and enactments, with newconfigurations of agency that work for change?

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-35639OAI: diva2:345747
The 4th European Gender & ICT Symposium
Available from: 2010-08-26 Created: 2010-08-26 Last updated: 2011-03-01Bibliographically approved

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