The political process of inscribing a new technology

  • Spicer A
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Abstract

What shapes the use of a new technology? Instead of assuming that a use is already built into a technology, I argue that technology use is shaped by political processes. A central component of this involves interested organizational actors mobilizing discourses to inscribe a function into a technology. I explore this dynamic in a case where interested groups attempt to inscribe the possible use of an Australian public broadcaster’s website during a public inquiry. I identify a progressive narrowing of the possible uses of the website that occurred across four successive ‘inscriptions’. This saw the website shifted from being a public resource to being a privatized outlet for advertising.The shift was not a neat process, but involved significant contestation and resistance at every step.The study shows that technical inscriptions are continually contested and resisted, inscription happens in a path-dependent fashion, and inscription is dependent on institutional platforms such as public inquiries.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Discourse
  • New technology
  • Organization
  • Politics
  • Resistance

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Authors

  • André Spicer

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