Philosophical Foundations for a Critical Evaluation of the Social Impact of ICT
Journal of Information Technology, Vol. 17, pp. 89-99, 2002
22 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2005
How do we critically evaluate the social impact of the information and communications technology (ICT) that, in the developed world at least, is central to both economy and society. Market oriented, functionalist and instrumental views tend to dominate discourse on ICT and the purpose of this paper is to challenge such views by suggesting a critical neohumanist alternative. Harvey's critical analysis of recent industrial society, Aristotle's concept of phronesis and Heidegger's tool analysis set the scene for the main argument of the paper based on Habermas' Theory of Communicative Action. Using an illustrative case vignette from the Irish community sector, we argue that this theory provides potentially valid philosophical and social theoretical guidelines for a critical interpretive evaluation of the social impact of ICT that focuses attention on normative (Lifeworld) as distinct from instrumental (System) forms of rationality.
Keywords: Critical social theory, critical theory, method, Habermas, ICT evaluation, social impact of ICT
JEL Classification: J78, L80, O10, O33, P10, R10
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