Information Technology Conceptualization: Respective Contributions of Sociology and Information Systems
Journal of Information Technology Impact, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 39-58, 2005
20 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2009
Date Written: January 9, 2009
This article analyzes the different phases the Information Systems-Sociology relationship has gone through and points out some specific features of sociologists and Information Systems scientists in their conceptualization of Information Technology (IT). It shows that both academic fields develop more and more convergent theorizations. The first part is centered on an historical analysis of sociology itself. It shows the great comeback of the Object within the sociological field at the beginning of the 80s. Different models have been developed from the generalized kinds of sociology to those that have been focused on the social construction of the Object. These make up sociological groups, which we call "autonomous". The second part presents the sociological approaches used and worked out in the domain of Information Systems (IS). These are presented by means of three historical moments (causalist, actor-based and processual). For each of these stages the influence of sociologies, notably those that deal with the Object, is obvious and models are more or less "illuminated" by means of broader perspectives. In the third part, there is a discussion of ontological differences between the work of sociologists studying IS objects and the work of IS researchers drawing on sociologists' conceptual contributions. Lastly, it seems that if sociology and Information Systems sometimes diverge in the way they study sociotechnical systems, they converge gradually in their conceptualization of the IT artifact.
Keywords: Sociology, management, sociotechnical approaches, research, epistemology
JEL Classification: M10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation