Technologies of care in community-based organisations: agency and authenticity.

The attached is the ms. of an article to be published in AI& Society in 2010.  Due to copyright reasons, the Springer version cannot be shared with you, but the DOI is DOI 10.1007/s00146-009-0257-7

Abstract:  Based upon research into small community-based organisations, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can be interpreted as a technology that emerges from complex environments of support, teaching, and community development. While the ICTs investigated are commonplace and relatively simple systems (personal computers, Internet), they are part of complex, and extended systems of action, knowledge, information and support that reach into local communities.   This basket of processes and skills, oriented around social justice principles can be conceived of as ‘technologies of care’, strongly influenced by the values and work activity primarily concerned with supporting people in need.  Furthermore, prior research has tended to take a dystopic view about the use of technology by women, who are the major workforce in such environments, but a more nuanced approach is taken her, demonstrating that while workers are competent with ICTs, they are only one element in a process which relies upon communicative and interpretive independence.   This understanding of the place of ICTs in human services work has important implications for those implementing or designing ICTs, though clarifying workers’ tacit understandings is a research challenge.    Based on more recent research, suggestions are also made about the limitations of the study and the need to take into account other ways of articulating tacit, practical knowledge about ICT relationships through methods such as CO-MAP.

[This article draws upon my PhD as well as more recent work with colleagues]

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