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The object and the event: The power in things

By G Fletcher and A Greenhill


This paper examines information and communications technology artefacts as a subset of the broader range of cultural items that surround and pervade contemporary experiences of the everyday. Within this context the paper utilises the critical perspectives of material culture studies to interpret the way in which artefacts continuously act as proxy agents of power within organisations. All artefacts reflect and are simultaneously influenced by dominant power structures. However, this relationship is not constant and is experienced in an indeterminate manner. Specific events within the organisation variously reinforce dominant structures or alternatively offer moments of liberation which are experienced directly and through interaction with artefacts. The argument presented in this paper understands events as cycling between the situationist perspectives of detournement and recuperation. By examining events and various interchanges that occur between people and objects, a critical understanding of how artefacts can be used both as tools of emancipation as well as mechanisms for reinforcing managerial and ideological modes of power can be exposed

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