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Wikipedia, critical social theory, and the possibility of rational discourse
Abstract Information systems researchers that applyInformation systems researchers that apply critical social perspectives frequently emphasize the potential for information technology to serve as a mechanism for increased rationalization, domination, and control. Such theorists often overlook or discount the liberating aspects of information systems. In this study, we apply the ideal of rational discourse developed by Jurgen Habermas to the phenomenon of Wikipedia in an effort to explore empirically the emancipatory potential of information systems. We contend that Wikipedia embodies an approximation of the necessary conditions for rational discourse. While several challenges persist, the example of Wikipedia illustrates the positive potential of information systems in supporting the emergence of more emancipatory forms of communication. The corresponding implications for researchers and design professionals alike are discussed. design professionals alike are discussed.
Added by wikilit team Added on initial load  +
Collected data time dimension Longitudinal  +
Conclusion In this essay, we argue that Wikipedia offIn this essay, we argue that Wikipedia offers an example of an information system that supports the emancipatory objectives of critical social theory. Specifically, by approximating the conditions for a Habermasian rational discourse, Wikipedia represents a system of inquiry that overcomes much of the influence of relations of power and domination. While we acknowledge that the Wikipedian discourse is not quite ideal in meeting the requirements for discursive action, we believe that the consistencies with Habermasian theory are evident. In particular, the rational discourse of theWikipedia environment has benefited significantly from the combination of technical allowances of a wiki environment, the emergence of social norms within the project, and the temporal persistence of argumentation. We have drawn upon an analysis of three cases to illustrate the degree to which this form of rational discourse persists across cultural, social, scientific, and political areas of contention. Ultimately, the broader societal impact ofWikipedia and other emergent computing platforms remains to be seen and opportunities for further research abound, but the current analysis provides an illustration that information systems may yet play a positive role in countering systems of human oppression.in countering systems of human oppression.
Data source Wikipedia pages  +
Doi 10.1080/01972240802587562 +
Google scholar url http://scholar.google.com/scholar?ie=UTF-8&q=%22Wikipedia%2C%2Bcritical%2Bsocial%2Btheory%2C%2Band%2Bthe%2Bpossibility%2Bof%2Brational%2Bdiscourse%22  +
Has author Sean Hansen + , Nicholas Berente + , Kalle Lyytinen +
Has domain Information systems +
Has topic Deliberative collaboration +
Pages 254-72  +
Peer reviewed Yes  +
Publication type Journal article  +
Published in Information Society +
Research design Statistical analysis  +
Research questions In this study, we apply the ideal of ratiIn this study, we apply the ideal of rational discourse developed by J¨urgen Habermas to the phenomenon of Wikipedia in an effort to explore empirically the emancipatory potential of information systems. We contend that Wikipedia embodies an approximation of the necessary conditions for rational discourse.cessary conditions for rational discourse.
Revid 11,073  +
Theories From the perspective of critical social thFrom the perspective of critical social theorists,1 information systems are generally perceived as supporting the control and monitoring of human actors and consequently contributing to their oppression (Lyytinen &Klein, 1985). In his Theory of Communicative Action, Habermas (1976, 1984) describes discursive action through which progress toward emancipation from unwarranted societal control can occur. We refer to this form of action as “rational discourse.” Although a number of scholars have indicated that Habermas’s ideal of rational discourse is not practically attainable2 (Lyytinen & Klein, 1985; Lyytinen & Ngwenyama, 1999; Sharrock & Button, 1997; Wilson, 1997), we join Lyytinen and Hirschheim (1988) in emphasizing the emancipatory potential of information systems under certain conditions and as a counterfactual ideal that is frequently assumed in our daily communications. The term “critical social theory” is commonly used to describe a variety of theoretical perspectives which share a unifying thread—questioning the conventional wisdom of prevailing schools of thought and institutional practices with a primary focus on issues related to justice and power (Alvesson & Willmott, 1996; Kincheloe & McLaren, 2003). In developing the Theory of Communicative Action, Habermas’s (1976, 1984) primary concern was to understand under what conditions humans enjoy freedom “from unnecessary need deprivation and toil, ideological manipulation and other psychosocial compulsions, and liberation from fear” (Klein & Huynh, 2004, p. 167).m fear” (Klein & Huynh, 2004, p. 167).
Theory type Analysis  +
Title Wikipedia, critical social theory, and the possibility of rational discourse
Unit of analysis Article  +
Url http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01972240802587562  +
Volume 5  +
Wikipedia coverage Main topic  +
Wikipedia data extraction Live Wikipedia  +
Wikipedia language Not specified  +
Wikipedia page type Article  +
Year 2009  +
Creation dateThis property is a special property in this wiki. 15 March 2012 20:35:20  +
Categories Deliberative collaboration  + , Information systems  + , Publications with missing comments  + , Publications  +
Modification dateThis property is a special property in this wiki. 30 January 2014 20:32:39  +
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