Abstract

Relational view of affordance theory has emerged as a viable theory in Information Systems (IS) research to explain variation in IS use. According to this theory, what a specific person can achieve with a technology is neither inherent in the person himself nor on the technology but emerges from their interaction. Despite that such relational view implies relational ontology, the ontological foundations have been insufficiently theorized which limits both its practical and theoretical applicability and explanatory power. In this paper, I suggest that Karen Barad’s relational ontology, known as agential realism, provides coherent and solid foundations for affordances that are especially suitable to explain IS use in contemporary workplace that is characterized by distributed yet tightly interconnected technological infrastructures rather than dyadic interactions with simple objects. Empirical illustrations drawn from ethnographic field work of technicians working with smart infrastructure show how affordances building on agential realism may enhance understanding of IS use.

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