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Abstract

When trying to reflect on complex social situations, like the design of an information system, we need the insight provided by some powerful concepts. One concept that has been used to considerable effect is that of the contradictions between two other concepts. For example, the concept of ‘knowing’ provides some insightful reflections, as does the concept of ‘power’. However, when creating a contradiction between these two concepts this insight can be further enhanced. ‘Knowledge is Power’, becomes ‘Power defines Knowledge’; and a debate is opened. So specifically, this paper will argue that creating contradictions between concepts can enhance reflective thinking on information system design. This contradiction can come in many forms including underlying tensions, irony, paradox, and certain types of humour. The evidence presented to support this argument come from writers who have used contradictions to see a range of differing issues.

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