The politics of (Dis-)engagements with technologies

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Technological optimism and the technological development within nearly all sectors in the industrial world the last 20 years shows that technology use in the workplace is here to stay and involves most workplaces. More specifically research within the health care sector dealing within how new technologies change practices and professions (e.g. Berg; Mol; Orlikowski; Vikkelsø) and research on technological literacy (Dakers; Garmire; Dupret & Hasse) focusing on what it takes to learn and master new technologies suggest that professionals perform creative invisible ‘work-arounds’ when dealing with technologies. This paper adds to the research on how working practices that are sustained and stabilised through technological efficacy and smoothness can be challenged by invisible work (e.g. Star 1991). It takes the perspective that certain types of disengagements are not necessarily caused by alienation or insufficient knowledge in how to use the technology (Bødker 2008). Rather, disengagements are practical expressions of making work situations more complex than what is possible when engaging with these same technologies. But at the same time do not necessarily disrupt obligating and engaging work practices overall. Therefore, disengagements with technologies can be important signs of invisible but sustainable professional practices. From an organisational point of view using concepts from material-semiotics (Latour, Strathern) the reasons for dis-engagement and their origins in the interrelations between patients, technology and professionals will be discussed using illustrative empirical examples from the health sector, i.e. outreach personnel in adult psychiatry and nurses in a somatic geriatric department. Exploring disengagements with technologies can be important to understand organizations’ sustainability and development and show aspects of technology use that adds and criticize its acknowledged purpose to secure standardizations and efficiency. The politics of technology use in work life become reactualized with the different types of engagements.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date13 Jun 2014
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2014
EventDASTS 2014: Enacting Futures - Roskilde Universitet, Roskilde, Denmark
Duration: 12 Jun 201413 Jun 2014


ConferenceDASTS 2014
LocationRoskilde Universitet
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