Power, Cash and Convenience: Translations in the Political Site of the ATM

The Information Society, Vol. 22, No. 5, pp. 325-340, 2006

Posted: 23 Jan 2010

See all articles by Louise Whittaker

Louise Whittaker

University of the Witwatersrand - Wits Business School

Lucas D. Introna

Lancaster University

Date Written: January 22, 2006

Abstract

The automatic teller machine (ATM) will be for the foreseeable future the dominant mode of access to cash for those living in industrialized societies. In this article we present the ATM as a political site where a multiplicity of relationships-primarily but not exclusively between the customer and the bank-become configured in ways that serve some interests and not others. The article draws on the work of Winner, Haraway, and Latour in discussing the ongoing translation of ATMs as it occurs in the United Kingdom, with further reference to South Africa and the United States. In order to make some of the politics of the ATM more visible, we illustrate the political struggles through four interconnected narratives: (a) the talking ATM, (b) the insecure ATM, (c) the charging ATM, and (d) the cashless ATM. In each of these descriptive accounts we attempt to show how the ATM becomes (or is) a cybernetic actor that is configured and reconfigured through a multiplicity of political translations resulting in a multiplicity of politically significant cybernetic ATM networks. Finally, we briefly discuss how these narratives interrelate to form the political site of the ATM.

Keywords: Politics, technology, ANT

Suggested Citation

Whittaker, Louise and Introna, Lucas D., Power, Cash and Convenience: Translations in the Political Site of the ATM (January 22, 2006). The Information Society, Vol. 22, No. 5, pp. 325-340, 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1540574

Louise Whittaker

University of the Witwatersrand - Wits Business School ( email )

Johannesburg
South Africa

Lucas D. Introna (Contact Author)

Lancaster University ( email )

Bailrigg
Lancaster, LA1 4YX
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/lucasintrona/home

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