Cukier et al. (2009) A Critical Analysis of Media Discourse on Information Technology

Abstract

A Critical Analysis of Media Discourse on Information Technology: Preliminary Results of a Proposed Method for Critical Discourse Analysis

Since the 1980s, there has been a growing body of critical theory in information systems research. A central theoretical foundation of this research is Habermas' theory of communicative action, which focuses on implications of speech and proposes general normative standards for communication. Habermas also places particular emphasis on the importance of the public sphere in a democratic society, critiquing the role of the media and other actors in shaping public discourse. While there has been growing emphasis on critical discourse analysis (CDA), there has been limited effort to systematically apply Habermas' validity claims to empirical research. Moreover, while critical research in information systems has examined communication within the organizational context, public discourse on information technology has received little attention. The paper makes three primary contributions:
(1) it responds to Habermas' call for empirical research to ground and extend his theory of communication in every day critical practice;
(2) it proposes an approach to applying Habermas' theory of communication to CDA; and
(3) it extends the reach of critical research in information systems beyond micro-level organizational concerns and opens up to critical reflection and debate on the impact of systematically distorted communication about technology in the public sphere.

Citation Wendy Cukier, Ojelanki K. Ngwenyama, Robert Bauer, Catherine A. Middleton (2009). A Critical Analysis of Media Discourse on Information Technology: Preliminary Results of a Proposed Method for Critical Discourse Analysis. Information Systems Journal, vol. 19 no. 2, pp. 175–196. DOI

BibTex entry for this article:

BibTex entry for this article:

@article{cukier2009critical,
author = {Cukier, Wendy and Ngwenyama, Ojelanki K. and Bauer, Robert and Middleton, Catherine A.},
doi = {10.1111/j.1365-2575.2008.00296.x},
isbn = {1365-2575},
issn = {13501917},
journal = {Information Systems Journal},
number = {2},
pages = {175--196},
title = {{A Critical Analysis of Media Discourse on Information Technology: Preliminary Results of a Proposed Method for Critical Discourse Analysis}},
volume = {19},
year = {2009}
}

Key ideas

This paper responds to the call for more critical IS research and has two main objectives:

  1. To propose an approach to applying Habermas’ theory of communication to critical discourse analysis (CDA) of IS phenomena;
  2. To extend the reach of critical IS research beyond the organizational sphere into the public sphere and society.

Notes

Introduction

Since the early 1980s, there has been a tradition of critical theory research in information systems (IS) (p. 176)

Much of this research draws its theoretical foundations from Habermas' theory of communicative action (TCA), which focuses on implications of speech and proposes general normative standards for communication. (p. 176)

Although many critical IS researchers cite Habermas as inspiration for their research, much of the critical empirical IS research is framed by the theories of Foucault and Latour (p. 176)

Framework For Critical Discourse Analysis

Empirical Illustration

Impact And Diffusion Of The Discourse

Conclusions and implications for future research

This paper proposes an approach for applying Habermasian validity claims in CDA, by translating universal principles of communication into specific tools for discourse analysis. (p. 191)

We found that Habermasian communicative rationality offers a fruitful way to structure an analysis of texts. We developed indicators for each claim. (p. 192)

The paper illustrates how the validity claims can provide a framework for assessing the public discourse on information technology to reveal communications distortions. (p. 192)

Our study does suggest that analysis of media discourse on technology is a promising area for further exploration and Habermas' validity claims can not only help identify distortions, but suggest standards for reading and writing critically. p.192

Keywords:

Communicative rationality, Critical discourse analysis, Critical theory, Habermas, INF6001W, Information systems research methodology, critical discourse analysis

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